Newly-Discovered Tomb Confirms That Badass Women Ran Ancient Peru

Illustration for article titled Newly-Discovered Tomb Confirms That Badass Women Ran Ancient Peru

Archaeologists in Peru have discovered a tomb belonging to a pre-Hispanic priestess, the eighth in over two decades — which they say confirms their belief that powerful women ruled the region 1,200 years ago. WHO RUN THE PRE-HISPANIC REGION OF PERU? PRIESTESSES.


The remains of the woman were discovered in an area called La Libertad in Peru's northern Chepan province; she belonged to a civilization called the Moche (or Mochica). In 2006, researchers uncovered the Lady of Cao in the same region. Before then, it was foolishly thought that only men held high positions in ancient Peru — but the luxury of the Lady of Cao's funerary bundle (SHE WAS FOUND WEARING A GOLDEN HAT THAT LOOKS LIKE A FRENCH BULLDOG) made it clear that this ancient woman was hugely high-ranking and most likely considered nearly divine.

The new priestess tomb makes it clear that the Lady of Cao is far from an anomaly. According to archaeological project director Luis Jaime Castillo:

This find makes it clear that women didn't just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society... It is the eighth priestess to be discovered. Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men.

In ancient Peru, one can extrapolate, men were the ones leaning in — LEANING INTO SHALLOW, UNMARKED GRAVES.

According to Castillo, the burial chamber was "impressive," even by Mochica standards. The Mochica were known as master craftsmen, so that is saying something. The priestess's burial chamber was covered in copper plates in the forms of waves and seabirds, and a mask and a knife were found near her neck. Her body is flanked with ceramic offerings, as well as the bodies of seven human sacrifices (two babies, three children, and two adults).

I would say that I'd like to go back and time and exist in pre-Hispanic Peru, but statistically speaking (and also speaking in terms of my basic skills and overall "peasant meat" vibe), it's really unlikely that I would have been a revered Priestess. I would probably have been one of the human sacrifices.

"Tomb find confirms powerful women ruled Peru long ago" []

Image via Kelsey Green/Shutterstock.



Okay, I wasn't gonna comment, but I have to.

I'm an archaeology student who has excavated in Peru. In fact I was at a site really close to this one a couple of weeks ago.

So here's the thing. It isn't that this grave doesn't mean that women held a powerful position in ancient Peruvian society — they most likely did hold quite a lot of power. But that doesn't mean they held all the power, or that men held no power. There were incredibly powerful male rulers as well. Also, the Mochica were just one of dozens of cultures that existed in the area. So we can't judge all Andean societies based on this one culture.

Sorry, I don't mean to be a wet blanket. But this stuff is my life and I don't want people to misinterpret what archaeologists are saying. It's hard enough to communicate with the public without the media skewing every word.

That being said, I love seeing stuff about archaeology on here, especially Andean archaeology. So rock on.