Friday, November 19, 2010

Mummies of 15th century dogs discovered in Peru

Peruvian archaeologists have discovered six mummified dogs, all dating from the 15th century and it seems that presented as religious offerings at a major pre-Columbian site just south of Lima. The dogs "have hair and complete teeth," said Jesus Holguin, an archaeologist at the museum in Pachacamac, situated some 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Lima.

Holguin told AFP Wednesday that experts were still trying to conclude their breed. The mummified dogs were found two weeks ago draped in cloth and buried in one of Pachacamac's adobe brick pyramids.

Archaeologists believe the animals were offerings related to a funeral, "although we do not know if this was connected to an important personality of the Inca period," said archaeologist Isabel Cornejo. Researchers will x-ray the finds in an effort to determine the breed of the animals and whether the dogs were slaughtered.

Pachacamac museum director Denise Pozzi-Escot said that the find will let researchers broaden their knowledge of ancient Peruvian canines. The remains are well preserved due to the type of soil and the dry weather along the Peruvian coastline, where it rarely rains.

At its height, Pachacamac was the most important ceremonial center on Peru's central coast, where thousands of pilgrims flocked from afar bringing rich offerings. Human sacrifices took place at the site. At least three different societies occupied Pachacamac for hundreds before the Incas took it over around 1400. The Incas in turn were defeated by Spanish conquistadors who arrived in 1532.