<p><strong>Arranged in the fetal position, this skeleton is among some 80 bodies discovered this spring in a vast <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/peru-guide/">Peruvian</a> tomb—the largest yet found at the ancient site of Pachacamac. Buried a thousand years ago with wooden "false heads," the now decayed mummies were unearthed within a perimeter of infant human remains. </strong></p> <p>Once covered by a thatch roof, the tomb may have been a final resting place for diseased pilgrims drawn by promises of miracle cures, <a href="http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=120448&amp;CultureCode=en">reports a team</a> led by archaeologist <a href="http://www.ulb.ac.be/philo/ychsma/en/equipe.html">Peter Eeckhout</a> of Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.</p> <p>As for the babies, Eeckhout doesn't rule out that they may have been sacrificed. It's just one more riddle of the Ychsma (pronounced EESH-MA)—the little-understood pre-Inca people who built their largest known city at Pachacamac, he said.</p> <p>(Read <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0503/resources_cre.html">more on Eeckhout and Pachacamac</a> from<em> National Geographic</em> magazine.)</p> <p><em>—James Owen</em></p>

Dust to Dust

Arranged in the fetal position, this skeleton is among some 80 bodies discovered this spring in a vast Peruvian tomb—the largest yet found at the ancient site of Pachacamac. Buried a thousand years ago with wooden "false heads," the now decayed mummies were unearthed within a perimeter of infant human remains.

Once covered by a thatch roof, the tomb may have been a final resting place for diseased pilgrims drawn by promises of miracle cures, reports a team led by archaeologist Peter Eeckhout of Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

As for the babies, Eeckhout doesn't rule out that they may have been sacrificed. It's just one more riddle of the Ychsma (pronounced EESH-MA)—the little-understood pre-Inca people who built their largest known city at Pachacamac, he said.

(Read more on Eeckhout and Pachacamac from National Geographic magazine.)

—James Owen

Photograph courtesy Université libre de Bruxelles

Pictures: Huge Peru Tomb Found—80 Bodies, Ring of Babies

Encircled by infant remains, the thousand-year-old burial holds 80 bodies and, archaeologists hope, clues to a mysterious pre-Inca culture.

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