CAJAMARCA, Peru, - Archaeologists in northern Peru have unearthed a 3,000-year-old tomb which they believe might have honoured an elite religious leader in the Andean country some three millennia ago.
Dubbed the "Priest of Pacopampa," referring to the highland archaeological zone where the tomb was found, the priest was buried under six layers of ash mixed with black earth, with decorated ceramic bowls and seals indicating ancient ritual body paint used for people of elite standing, Peru's Culture Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Two seals were also found along the upper edges of the tomb, one with an anthropomorphic face looking east and another with a jaguar design facing west.
Project leader Yuji Seki said the large size of the tomb, nearly two meters (2.2 yards) in diameter and one meter deep, was "very peculiar," as was the position of the body lying face down with one half of his body extended and feet crossed.
The body was also found with a bone shaped into a tupu, a large pin used by Andean Amerindians to hold cloaks and ponchos, which would have been used to hold a woman's blanket, he added.
"Though this person is a man, the associations are very peculiar," said Seki. "I think this was a leader in his time."
The Pacopampa Archaeological Project has been working in the area since 2005, the ministry said, adding that rock layers indicate the priest, who would have been buried around 1,200 B.C., was some five centuries older than the tombs of the "Lady of Pacopampa" and the "Priests of the Serpent Jaguar of Pacopampa," discovered in 2009 and 2015 respectively.
Last year's find of the "Priest of the Pututos," however, is believed to be older.