Gas workers discover eight mummies and pre-Inca artifacts, including Opium pipes under Lima streets, Peru
Gas workers in Lima, Peru, discovered eight mummies and Pre-Inca artifacts under the city's streets.
Gas workers in Lima, Peru, made a remarkable discovery this week when they unearthed eight mummies and several Pre-Inca artifacts under the ancient streets of the city.
“We are recovering those leaves of the lost history of Lima that is just hidden under the tracks and streets,” Jesus Bahamonde, an archaeologist with Calidda, the company that distributes natural gas to the 10 million residents of Peru’s capital city, said.
Calidda has been expanding its gas line system for nearly two decades, and in that time, it has found more than 1,900 archaeological finds, including mummies, pottery, and textiles, Bahamonde said.
The eight mummified males were found wrapped in cotton cloth and tied with ropes made from vines. They were buried about a foot below the ground in a trench.
Archaeologists with Calidda believe the men belonged to the Ichma culture, which emerged around A.D. 1100 and dominated the valleys around Lima until it was absorbed by the Inca Empire in the late 15th century.
Roberto Quispe, an archaeologist who worked in the trench, told the Associated Press that the mummies are likely two adults and six minors.
Lima has a long history of human occupation, dating back more than 10,000 years, from the Pre-Incan cultures to the Spanish conquistadors who claimed the land in the 16th century.
Many of the archaeological finds have been from more recent times.
In 2018, Quispe and other archaeologists working in the La Flor neighborhood found wooden coffins holding three Chinese immigrants buried in the 19th century.
The bodies were found with opium pipes, hand-rolled cigarettes, shoes, Chinese playing cards, a Peruvian silver coin minted in 1898, and a certificate of completion of employment contract, written and Spanish and dated 1875.
The eight mummies were found among braised chicken restaurants and on a road that leads to Peru’s only nuclear power station.
“When the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century they found an entire population living in the three valleys that today occupy Lima … what we have is a kind of historical continuation,” Bahamonde said.
Most of the archaeological sites uncovered by Calidda have been burial sites found on flat ground, Bahamonde said.
There are also more than 400 larger archaeological sites scattered throughout the city, known as ‘huacas,’ which are sacred adobe constructions typically found on hilltops. They are called ‘huacas’ in the indigenous Quechua language.