Pre-Inca Burial Complex Was More than a Royal Cemetery- Was a Necropolis for Society Elite & Place For Ancestral Worship

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Functioning over 1300 years ago, Castillo de Huarmey, meaning "the Castle on the River Huarmey," is linked to the Wari culture. It is "one of the most important empires of pre-Inca Peru." Recent discoveries at Castillo de Huarmey confirm that the necropolis "served as a burial place for elites and the cult of ancestors of the Wari culture community." [i]

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The Gallery of Elite Craftsmen found in 2022 was located just below the royal mausoleum of Castillo de Huarmey, discovered 10 years earlier.M. Giersz/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The "first ever collective burial of women of the highest elites of the Wari Empire" was discovered by research team members from the University of Warsaw 10 years ago. The queen's remains, "fifty-seven aristocrats, six human sacrifices, and two eternal guards were laid within the tomb." [ii]

The two eternal guards, one man and one woman, each had their left foot amputated "so that they would never stop doing their guard. The remains were found along with more than 1300 artifacts formed from "gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, wood, bones, and shells." [iii]

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Golden ear ornament inlaid with semi-precious stones.M. Giersz/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The most recent discoveries are the "Gallery of Elite Craftsmen." This site contained "seven burials of elite craftsmen working at the court of the Wari rulers." In addition to the elite, there were remains discovered from two adult women, two adult men, and three teenagers. [iv]

Additional discoveries included "axes, knives, saws, and materials for weaving baskets." Researchers stated that,
Surrounded by the dead, beautiful products of wood, fabric, and fragments of objects with beautiful iconographic representations on leather or in reeds were also placed at various stages of production." [v]
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Mummy of one of the elite craftsmen discovered in the M. Giersz gallery.M. Giersz/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

These recent discoveries confirm that Castillo de Huarmey functioned as a royal tomb, a place of worship of ancestors, the administrative center of the Wari kingdom, and a place to produce handcrafts for elites. [vi]

Now, burials of male members of the elite of the Wari kingdom have been discovered. Whereas previously, only female members had been unearthed, rich grave gifts and objects confirm that "both men and women buried in Castillo de Huarmey were devoted to the highest class craftmanship and produced the most perfect products of their era." [vii]
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Gold decoration of the headdress found in one of the graves in the Gallery of Elite Craftsmen.M. Giersz/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

References

[i] Heritage Daily, Archaeologists from the University of Warsaw Have Found Several Burials Containing Elite Wari Craftsman in the Castillo De Huarmey Mausoleum, (Sep. 7, 2022)

[ii] Id.

[iii] W. Wieckowski, A Case of Foot Amputation from the Wari Imperial Tomb at Castillo de Huarmey, Peru, (Jan. 6, 2016)

[iv] Id.

[v] Leman Altuntas, Tombs of elite Wari craftsmen found in the royal necropolis in Castillo de Huarmey, Peru, (Sep. 12, 2022)

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

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