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News > Culture

Bolivia: Archaeologists Find 500-Year-Old Inca Cemetery

  • Archaeologist Jedu Sagarnaga holds a skull as part of an archaeological finding in Mazo Cruz.

    Archaeologist Jedu Sagarnaga holds a skull as part of an archaeological finding in Mazo Cruz. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 November 2018

Archaeologists have found human remains and ritual vessels in an over 500-year-old Inca cemetery in Bolivia.

An over 500-year-old Incan cemetery has been found in Bolivia. More than one hundred human remains and more than 30 pottery pieces and other decorative artifacts were found. The discovery reveals important data surrounding the identity of ancestral cultures of the Latin American country.

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The discovery was first made by a mining company near La Paz, which then impelled an archaeological team to enter the quarry. The remains belong to over 100 individuals buried with over 30 vessels usually used for ceremonial purposes by civilizations within the Incan empire.

"Inside that cemetery that we found there were two special tombs," Bolivian archaeologist Wanderson Esquerdo told Reuters, "One of the tombs, with that characteristic of monumental archaeology, had about 108 individuals inside."

Jedu Sagarmanga the leading archeologist on this investigation and professor from the University of Mayor San Andres from La Paz, said that "The vessels are whole and are Incan." The cemetery is part of a human settlement built by the Pacajes 'Eagle Men' (Paka Jakis) people, who were conquered by the Inca towards the end of the 15th century.

The human remains are not whole, due to natural disintegration, and the site has signs of being looted in the past. However, the finding enlightens the cultural and ritual practices of pre-Columbian people in the region. Several researchers have agreed on the importance of these findings in filling some holes in the study of that specific period.

Around 150 personal items, such as decorative objects and hairdressing items were also found. "These were personal favorites of the deceased. In contrast, the vessels were more of the community," said Sagarmanga. "We have been able to recover the objects with which the individuals were buried," Esquerdo explained.

According to the expert, a very important fact is that this cemetery is a communal pit where the remains of men and women from different social strata could be found.

The remains were recovered and taken to an archaeological center for classification and study. Later they will return to Viacha and will be placed in a museum.

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