Peruvian gas workers made a surprising discovery beneath the ancient streets of Lima this week, uncovering eight mummies and several pre-Inca artifacts.
“We are recovering those leaves of Lima’s lost history that are simply hidden under the roads and streets,” said Jesús Bahamonde, an archaeologist at Calidda, the company that distributes natural gas to the 10 million inhabitants of Peru’s capital.
Since the company began expanding its gas pipeline system nearly two decades ago, they have amassed more than 1,900 archaeological finds, including mummies, pottery and textiles, Bahamonde said.
In the most recent discovery, the eight mummified males were found sheltered in the trench, wrapped in cotton cloth and tied with ropes braided with vines. Workers found the bodies about a foot underground.
Gas company archaeologists believe the men belonged to a pre-Inca culture called Ichma, which formed around 1100 AD and flourished in 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 mummified bodies were probably two adults and six minors.
Lima, now an urban economic center, has been occupied by man for more than 10,000 years, from pre-Inca cultures to the Spanish conquers who claimed the land in the 16th century.
Many archaeological finds have proven to be from more recent times.
In 2018, Quispe and other archaeologists working in the La Flor neighborhood found wooden coffins containing three Chinese immigrants buried in the 19th century.
The bodies were found along with opium pipes, handmade cigarettes, shoes, Chinese playing cards, a Peruvian silver coin minted in 1898 and a certificate of completion of the employment contract, written in Spanish and dated 1875.
The eight mummies were found between stewed chicken restaurants and a road that leads to the only nuclear power plant in Peru.
“When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they found an entire population living in the three valleys that occupy Lima today… what we have is a kind of historical continuation,” Bahamonde said.
Most of the archaeological sites discovered by Calidda have been burial sites discovered on flat terrain, Bahamonde said.
Also scattered throughout the urbanized city are more than 400 larger archaeological sites, known in the indigenous Quechua language as “huacas,” which are sacred adobe constructions usually found on hilltops.
With publication wires