Pre-Hispanic metal artifact assemblage found in Peru

Archaeologists excavating the Ă‘usta Hispana archaeological site in Peru’s Vilcabamba district have discovered a group of 38 pre-Hispanic metal artifacts. Four ceremonial vessels, one arm-ring, four bracelets, two ceremonial knives, 18 pendants from a pectoral, a folded pectoral, a headband, six bowls and a headdress were unearthed next to a retaining wall at the foot of the second platform of the Yurac Rumi (“White Rock”), a monumental sculpted rock shrine sacred to the Inca that was used in religious celebrations.

The elaborate pectoral with its trapezoidal pendants, the ceremonial vessels known as aquillas (gifts from the Inca monarchs to loyal courtiers, often interred with nobles as funerary offerings) and other rich furnishings were the personal attire of someone of the Cusco region great importance in Inca society. The culture that produced them is currently unknown.

The objects are in good condition, and archaeologists with the Decentralized Directorate of Culture (DDC) of recovered the vessels intact with the soil still inside of them so that it can be studied for trace materials and organic remains to help determine their origins and the archaeological context of their burial.

Maritza Rosa Candia, director of Culture, confirmed that the pieces will undergo a preventive conservation process in the Office of Sample Elements and Collections of the DDC, as well as analysis in the physical-chemical laboratory for their proper care.

“The specialists are going to carry out the corresponding studies such as the chemical composition of the metal or alloy that they present, the iconography, dating, uses and other aspects to determine their origin and provenance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the excavation of the site is scheduled to continue for another three months, so more artifacts may be found before the work is done.