A Site to Die For
Found in Peru within a chamber used for an ancient human-sacrifice rite called the presentation, this woman was likely an offering to the site, archaelogists say.
Announced last week, the 197-foot-long (60-meter-long) sacrificial chamber or passageway at the Huaca Bandera archaeological site belonged to the Moche culture, a pre-Columbian agricultural civilization that flourished on the north coast of Peru from about 100 B.C. to AD 800.
The several burials found in the sacrifice chamber "are from a time apparently after the site had been abandoned but nevertheless continued to receive offerings to maintain the status of the elite sanctuary," archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre, leader of the excavation, said in an email translated from Spanish.
This particular skeleton was found adorned with copper ornaments on her head and ceramics and seashells alongside. Inside the vessels are seeds of the Nectandra plant, a psychoactive often used in ritual ceremonies.