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In the outskirts of Barranca, Peru, a Polish-Peruvian archaeological team uncovered 22 well-preserved graves, primarily holding infants and young children. Led by Peruvian archaeologist Plinio Guillen Alarcón and Polish bioarchaeologist Łukasz Majchrzak, the team explored the site atop Cerro Colorado, revealing pre-Columbian structures dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE.
The 2022 expedition, part of a research project funded by the National Agency for Academic Exchange, unveiled intact burials containing bodies wrapped in textiles and plant materials. Besides the deceased, artifacts like ceramics, tools, and remnants of food were discovered.
Remarkably, six of the graves belonged to adults, while the remaining 16, spaced at a distance, housed children of various ages, likely newborns. The meticulous arrangement of the child burials, resembling adult positions, raises questions about cultural practices and mortuary rituals.
Bioarchaeologist Łukasz Majchrzak noted the intriguing similarities among the children’s graves, emphasizing the need for further exploration to understand the community’s burial practices fully.
The textiles surrounding the bodies, adorned with geometric patterns, suggest a ritualistic significance. Additionally, some graves contained corn cobs and unidentified plant materials, believed to provide sustenance for the deceased in the afterlife, aligning with Andean post-mortem beliefs.
The ongoing project, titled “Impact of Extreme Climate Events on the Preservation of Archaeological Sites in Peru,” involves researchers from various disciplines, employing advanced techniques such as computer tomography and isotopic analysis. The initial dating places the graves between 1000 and 1100 CE, with radiocarbon dating to confirm these estimates.
As the team delves deeper into the analysis, the discovery promises insights into ancient Peruvian cultures and burial traditions, shedding light on the lives of those interred in the sacred grounds of Barranca.