WASHINGTON – A female mummy with complex tattoos on her arms has been
found in a ceremonial burial site in Peru, the National Geographic
Society reported Tuesday.
The mummy was accompanied by ceremonial items including jewelry and
weapons, and the remains of a teenage girl who had been sacrificed,
The burial was at a site called El Brujo on Peru’s north coast near
They said the woman was part of the Moche culture which thrived in
the area between A.D. 1 and A.D. 700. The mummy was dated about A.D.
The presence of gold jewelry and other fine items indicates the mummy
was that of an important person, but anthropologist John Verano of
Tulane University, said the researchers are puzzled by the presence
of war clubs, which are not usually found with females.
The woman had complex tattoos, distinct from others of the Moche,
covering both arms and other areas. Bone scarring indicated the woman
had given birth at least once. The cause of her death was not apparent.
Verano said she would have been considered an adult in her prime.
Some Moche people reached their 60s and 70s.
The grave also contained headdresses, jewelry made of gold and
semiprecious stones, war clubs, spear throwers, gold sewing needles,
weaving tools and raw cotton.
“Perhaps she was a female warrior, or maybe the war clubs and spear
throwers were symbols of power that were funeral gifts from men,”
Verano said. In the thousands of Moche tombs previously exposed, no
female warrior has been identified.
The find is described in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.