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Chauchilla is an ancient cemetery in Peru that contains chilling mummified human remains

Marija Georgievska

The Chauchilla Cemetery is a cemetery located 30 kilometers south of the city of Nazca in Peru. The site is by the Poroma riverbed and can be accessed off a dirt track from the Panamerican Highway.

It was discovered in the 1920s but had not been used since the 9th century AD. It contains ancient mummified human remains and archeological artifacts.

The bodies in Chauchilla Cemetery all came from the same group of Pre-Colimbian people. Photo Credit

The bodies in Chauchilla Cemetery all came from the same group of Pre-Columbian people. Photo Credit

 

The Peruvian Desert's dry climate is a factor in the preservation. Photo Credit

The Peruvian Desert’s dry climate is a factor in the preservation. Photo Credit

The mummies were, until recently, scattered across the desert, left by ransacking tomb-robbers. Now the mummies, bones, and pottery have been carefully arranged in about a dozen tombs.

Over the years, grave robbers ransacked the tombs. Photo Credit

Over the years, grave robbers ransacked the tombs. Photo Credit

The bodies are so remarkably preserved, due mainly to the arid climate in the Peruvian Desert. In addition to skulls and bones, there are several tombs which are centuries old, as well as long human hairs, ceramic fragments and other remains scattered on the desert surface. The bodies were clothed in embroidered cotton and then painted with a resin and kept in purpose-built tombs made from mud bricks. The mummies are sitting upright; they are all facing east as required under the faith of the Nazca people.

All the mummies are pointed at east. Photo Credit

All the mummies are pointed at east. Photo Credit

 

In spite of their centuries-old vintage, many still have their hair while others retain their skin. Photo Credit

In spite of their centuries-old vintage, many still have their hair while others retain their skin. Photo Credit

According to Atlas Obscura, many of the heads of the mummies have been specially prepared with holes drilled into the backs of their skulls, and in some cases, rope has been threaded through the mummified head.

The site has been protected under Peruvian law since 1997. Photo Credit

The site has been protected under Peruvian law since 1997. Photo Credit

Since 1997, the site has been protected by Peruvian law. Today, tourists pay around seven dollars to take the two-hour tour of this ancient necropolis. It is the only archeological site in Peru in which ancient mummies can be seen with grave goods in burial chambers.

The exact nature and use of the heads remains distinclty unclear. Photo Credit

The exact nature and use of the heads remain distinctly unclear. Photo Credit

The cemetery can be seen in the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It is explicitly identified in the screenplay, promotional materials, and merchandise.