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Workers uncover 8 mummies and pre-Inca objects while expanding gas network in Peru

Workers installing new gas lines outside Lima, Peru uncovered eight mummies and objects dating back to pre-Inca times last week.

Like an onion with several layers, the capital region of Peru has layers of history that sometimes get peeled when installing new infrastructure.

Last week, gas line workers on the installation of new lines uncovered eight pre-Inca funeral bales.

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Peru archaeologists uncover vessels and bones

Archaeologists uncover vessels and bones discovered by city workers who were digging a natural gas line for the company Calidda in the district of Carabayllo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Eight burial offerings from the pre-Inca Ychsma culture have been identified by archaeologists so far, according to lead archaeologist Jesus Bahamonde. The tube running through the site is an illegal water pipe. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

“We are recovering those leaves of the lost history of Lima that is just hidden under the tracks and streets,” Jesus Bahamonde, an archaeologist at Calidda, the company that distributes natural gas in the city of 10 million people, told the Associated Press on Friday.

Over the last 19 years, the company has been conducting excavations to upgrade and expand its gas line systems. In the process, crews uncovered over 1,900 archaeological finds, including textiles, pottery and mummies, which have mostly been connected to burial sites on flat ground.

More than 400 more archaeological sites, bigger than the burial sites, have also been dug up throughout the urban landscape.

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Peru bones and vessels

Archaeologists uncover bones and vessels discovered by city workers who were digging a natural gas line for the company Calidda in the district of Carabayllo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Eight burial offerings from the pre-Inca Ychsma culture have been identified by archaeologists so far, according to lead archaeologist Jesus Bahamonde. The tube running through the site is an illegal water pipe. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Adobe constructions on top of hills and considered sacred places are known as “huacas” in the Indigenous Quechua Language.

For an area that has been occupied for over 10,000 years by pre-Inca cultures, the Inca Empire and culture introduced by Spanish conquistadors starting in 1535, the number of finds is not surprising.

Last week’s finds included bales of ancient men in a seated position, wrapped in cotton cloth and tied with liana-braided ropes in trenches nearly a foot below the surface.

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Peru excavation with ancient mummies

An archaeologist excavates an ancient mummy amid vessels discovered by city workers who were digging a natural gas line for the company Calidda in the district of Carabayllo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Eight burial offerings from the pre-Inca Ychsma culture have been identified by archaeologists so far, according to lead archaeologist Jesus Bahamonde. The tube running through the site is an illegal water pipe. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Calidda archaeologists believe the bales are from the pre-Inca culture called Ichma, which developed in 1100 A.D. and spread through the valleys until it became part of the Inca Empire by the late 15th century.

One of the archaeologists, Roberto Quispe working in the trench said the uncovered funeral bundles can hold about two adults and six juveniles.

All eight burial sites were found near braised chicken restaurants and a road leading to the country’s only nuclear power station.

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Peru ancient vessels

Ancient vessels lay next to an illegal water pipe running through the site where archaeologists uncover bones and vessels discovered by workers who were digging a natural gas line for the company calidda in the district of Carabayllo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Eight burial offerings from the pre-Inca Ychsma culture have been identified by archaeologists so far, according to lead archaeologist Jesus Bahamonde. The tube running through the site is an illegal water pipe (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Some of the other discoveries located over the years have been more recent. For instance, Quispe was working in the La Flor neighborhood in 2018 when he and other archaeologists came across wooden coffins with three Chinese immigrants who were buried there in the 19th century.

The Chinese bodies were found next to opium-smoking pipes, handmade cigarettes, shoes, Chinese playing cards, a Peruvian silver coin dated 1898 and a certificate of completion dated 1875.

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“When the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, they found an entire population living in the three valleys that today occupy Lima … what we have is a kind of historical continuation,” Bahamonde said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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