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Home of the Departed

At the Moche site of El Brujo, an ornate enclosure holds four graves (pictured above). The largest grave belonged to the tattooed woman who was buried around A.D. 450. The other graves contained men. “This patio was the señora’s mausoleum, built for her in a sacred space,” says archaeologist Régulo Franco. Those who came to honor her burned offerings and poured libations into a vessel set above her tomb. Beneath six courses of adobe, a cane scaffolding, a reed mat, and six tree trunks, archaeologists discovered the large bundle containing her body. At her side lay the skeleton of a sacrificed girl with a cord used to strangle her still around her neck.

Text Source: Williams, A. R., and Ira Block. "Mystery of the Tattooed Mummy." National Geographic Magazine June 2006: [71]+. National Geographic Virtual Library.
Photograph by:
  • Ira Block/National Geographic Creative