On the top of a hill just outside the capital city of Lima, Peru, is the practice field of a professional soccer club. While that might not seem that extraordinary, just next door the body of a mummy has been found surrounded with coca leaves.
Remains of the mummy’s hair and skull were found first, in a cotton bundle, before the rest of the body was uncovered. The mummy was buried around 1 meter (3 feet) deep and was found lying face up with long black hair. The lower extremities of the mummy were tied with a braided rope made of plant material, and there were stones surrounding the skeleton.
Also around the mummy were coca leaves and seashells, suggesting that the body was buried as part of a ritual. The burial area was atop a U-shaped clay temple, which is characteristic of some pre-Hispanic buildings. While radiocarbon dating has not yet been carried out to fully determine the age of the mummy, experts think it could be around 3,000 years old.
"[It] had been left or offered (as a sacrifice) during the last phase of the construction of this temple," archaeologist Miguel Aguilar told Reuters. "It is approximately 3,000 years old."
The male skeleton was found with old fly eggs next to the body, leading the researchers to believe that the body could have been left exposed for several days before being covered. Found in Rimac, the hill area was known as a “huaca”, meaning sacred place in Quechua. It's likely the mummy was from the Manchay culture, according to Aguilar, who were known for building their temples in a U-shape that pointed to the sunrise.
Another mummy discovered in Peru last year was also tied with ropes and dates back 1,200 to 800 years ago. In other mummy news, a man was arrested by Peruvian police for keeping the remains of a male mummy in a cooler bag to show his friends in the park. Yes, really.