Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered the tomb of a noble Inca, situated 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lima. The tomb was discovered at the Mata Indio archaeological site in Lambayeque and is more than 500 years old.
The tomb's occupant is believed to have been buried with his companions. So far, the team has discovered a total of five adults and four young children who appear to have been sacrificed. The children were placed beneath the tomb’s stone floor lined up from east to west. According to archaeologist Alfredo Nunez, this is “a very important symbolic axis for the time.”
The researchers concluded that the tomb likely held someone of note as it contains a collection of rather fancy sea shells from mollusks belonging to the Spondylus genus, aka thorny oysters. The Incas used to bury important members of society with these beautiful shells.
The team also uncovered a number of vases despite the fact that the tomb appears to have been broken into and looted multiple times. The tomb also has an interesting structure – it includes various hollows in which symbolic idols could be placed.
“We are lucky to have documented the structure and recovered some objects that allow us to date [the tomb],” Luis Chero Zurita, Director of the Huaca Rajada-Sipan site museum, told local news outlet Andina.
Zurita likened the site to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, noting that the River Zaña would have been a vital resource to the Incas, just as the Nile was to the ancient Egyptians.
The tomb covers over 60 square meters (645 square feet), which is impressively large for a burial chamber found in the area.
"It is the first funerary chamber of this nature and magnitude that is reported in Lambayeque,” said archaeologist Anaximandro Nunez Mejia, reports Tourismo al Peru.
“It was built from the excavation in the ground of a pit with the depth and dimensions intentionally planned to house the mortuary remains of some main character and his companions, on their journey to the afterlife, as well as the large number of offerings that would be placed in niches and environment of individuals.”