Archaeologists have found a hidden tomb of the Wari, a monument from an early civilization that predated the Inca, nestled in a site 175 miles north of Lima, Peru.
The funerary chamber, ensconced in a stepped pyramid, had been filled with more than 1,200 artifacts, including gold- and silver-inlaid jewelry, ceremonial axes, looms and spindles.
The Wari mausoleum at El Castillo de Huarmey is the first pyramid discovered at the site that has not been looted, Milosz Giersz, an archaeologist at the University of Warsaw who headed the expedition, said in an interview. It holds an altar-like throne and the bodies of 63 people, mostly women. Bodies were placed in seated position and wrapped in disintegrating cloth.
"We know little about this culture," Giersz said, "and this discovery is the first one which brings us so much information about the funerary practices of the highest-ranking elite and the role of the woman in pre-Hispanic times."
The artifacts included ear ornaments, rattles, looms, spindles and ceramics.
The Wari were an Andean civilization that flourished in the coastal regions from roughly A.D. 500 to AD 1000, well before the Inca empire's 13th-century rise.