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Part 4 (back to Part 3)

Cave Artefacts
On our descent from the summit, archaeology student Walter Diaz took us to a cave that sits in the middle of a rock face at about 16,500 feet. Inside, we found not only human remains, but also the metal and pottery artefacts pictured here. Jose Antonio's on-the-spot interpretation is that these are pre-Inca remains and could be those of the Huari, over 1000 years old.

image of artifacts "We've never found a high-altitude site where there've been pre-Inca remains. Huari expansion started around 700 A.D. and this region is definitely on the edge of the Huari area," explains Johan Reinhard. Bill Conklin agrees that if these are truly pre-Inca remains, this site will be an unprecedented find—the highest spot used as an offering place by the ancestors of the Inca.

image of metal artifacts from cave The pottery are traditional miniature offering pieces that are symbolic of useful vessels used by the Huari. The metal artefacts from the cave, however, "look more typical of Chimu dangles that were sewn onto textiles as a glittery addition to a garment," says Bill Conklin. The Chimu, who were conquered by the Inca, were known for their metallurgy and specialized metal ornamentation. Their decorative style had a significant influence on the Inca, as evidenced by the feather headdresses found on figurines that were of Chimu origin.

image of mummy fabric Sarita's Wrappings
Perhaps most interesting of the sacrificial remains on Sara Sara are the textiles surrounding Sarita herself. The Inca sacrificial children were all wrapped in an outer textile that covered inner garments, and there were often more than one textile around the mummy. Bill Conklin explains, "Juanita, for example, has a male garment near her that was to accompany her for her husband in the future world." Although the textile bundle surrounding Sarita looks like a mud-soaked old cloth, we discovered, upon moving her, that it is very well preserved and has a distinct striped design. Conklin describes this fine scale striping as "beautiful and unprecedented in Inca textiles." Perhaps Sarita's wrappings will open a window of discovery into an unexplored chapter image of mummy in ground of Inca craft. When we asked Bill Conklin what he thinks we might find when Sarita is completely unwrapped, he responded: "Things will get better on the inside. The worse deterioration always happens on the outside and there has been no damage to Sarita by lightning like that found on the two Ampato mummies. You may find an interesting story there."

The Lost Empire | The Sacrificial Ceremony | High Altitude Archaeology | Burial Artefacts

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