Mass grave of 25 women, children found in Chan Chan

Archaeologists have unearthed a mass grave containing the remains of 25 individuals, mostly women, at the pre-Inca site of Chan Chan near Trujillo in northern Peru. The bodies were  wrapped in layers of fabric and arranged in seated positions within an excavation area of 10 square meters at the southern wall of the Chimu citadel. They were buried with 70 pottery vessels and artifacts associated with textile work.

According to Jorge Meneses —head of the archaeological research project— this find is unusual due to its characteristics and location in a raised area of the Utzh An (Great Chimu) walled complex.

“Most of them (the remains) belonged to women under 30 who were buried with objects used in textile activities, a couple of children, and a couple of teenagers. It is a very specific population, not too young considering the average human lifespan was 40 years,” he remarked.

At first examination, there is no evidence that the people in the grave were human sacrifices. They were not buried at the same time. One individual was buried shortly after his death. Some of the other people’s bones were bleached and disarticulated, indicating they had been moved to the mass grave after having decomposed at another location.

It is an unusual combination of features because while it is a mass grave, the burials and reburials were done with care and the quality and quantity of goods buried as funerary offerings suggest the deceased may have been members of the Chimu elite.