Chauchilla Cemetery is an ancient Nazca burial ground in the town of Nazca, Peru. Relatively unknown, particularly when compared to the world famous Nazca Lines, Chauchilla Cemetery is one of the most open displays of mummified bodies.
For many years Chauchilla cemetery was looted by treasure hunters, who destroyed the place completely, taking away all the treasures the mummies kept in their tombs for centuries. Grave robbers just left behind the corpses, which can be seen today all over the ground. In addition to skulls and bones, visitors also can see several tombs centuries’ old, as well as long human hairs, ceramic fragments and others remains scattered on the dessert surface. It is the only archaeological site in Peru, in which ancient mummies are seen in their original graves, along with ancient artifacts, dating back to 1000 AD.
Some of the bodies are sitting patiently in the corner, while the others are looking up towards the visitors standing at the edge.
All of them are dressed up in material which turned into rags, but it still looks so realistic, that you can’t help but wonder whether they have chosen the outfit by themselves. And maybe the bowls on the ground placed in front of them were their last supper after all.
The site remained so well preserved due to two major reasons. First of all it is all about the way the bodies were prepared for burial: covered in embroidered cotton and painted with resin before being put into tombs made of mud bricks. Such technique kept all the insects away and slowed bacteria that usually destroys the bodies.
Second of all it is the dry climate in Peruvian desert. Here the bodies don’t decay like they normally do in the rest of the world. In these tombs, the flesh lived on. The souls? Well, who knows for sure.
The Chauchilla cemetery is a part of the Nazca culture, and the most famous legacy of these people are the Nazca Lines: the enormous shapes and patterns that were created in the desert and are best viewed from a plane above. A trip to see the mummies is a worthwhile trip when you’re here, though. Most tourists just come for the day, take a flight to see the lines, and leave. But those pictures in the desert are just an ancient remnant of a long lost culture.
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