1,500 Year Old Tattooed Lady Appears in Peru

An exquisitely preserved and elaborately tattooed
mummy of a young woman has been discovered deep inside a mud-brick pyramid
in northern Peru, archaeologists from Peru and the U.S. announced today.

The 1,500-year-old mummy may shed new light on the mysterious Moche culture,
which occupied Peru’s northern coastal valleys from about A.D. 100 to 800.

In addition to the heavily tattooed body, the tomb yielded a rich array
of funeral objects, from gold sewing needles and weaving tools to masterfully
worked metal jewelry. Peruvian archaeologists, under the direction of lead
scientist R?gulo Franco, made the discovery last year at an ancient ceremonial
site known as El Brujo.

The tomb lay near the top of a crumbling pyramid called Huaca Cao Viejo,
a ruin near the town of Trujillo (see Peru map) that has been well known
since colonial times.

from National Geographic

El Brujo, of course, means The Wizard, The Witchdoctor,
The Shaman. We suspect the
tattooed chick has a back story that would make today’s most demented
Goth seem like a Princess in a Fairy Tale by comparison. See related
speculation in the New
York Times

The Moche, who ruled what today is the north coast of
Peru when the Roman Empire ruled the Ancient World, were without a doubt
the most blood-thirsty and ghoulish of the many sacrificial cults in
pre-Hispanic America. They sacrificed thousands of assorted victims every
year for hundreds of years. They especially liked to sacrifice children
and virgins.

They worshiped a sanguinary deity called The Decapitator,
usually depicted as a giant spider with one arm holding a knife at the
neck of its next victim and another holding the head by its hair. The
sacrifices, often dozens or hundreds at a time, featured not only, like
the Aztecs, removal of the still-beating heart using a special sacrificial
but also complete excarnation and
ritual consumption of human blood.

They couldn’t build a house or even an outhouse
without sacrificing several teenaged virgins and planting them at the
corners in
a sort of macabre feng shui. Much anthropological attention has been paid
to the source of so many human sacrifices, with no consensus conclusion.

Moche is a dark and haunted town to this day. It features worn,
slump-shouldered pyramids of weathered adobe brick, rising like brown
bales of sun-baked straw in the middle of irrigated fields of corn and
sugar cane, desultory agricultural workers and poverty-stricken peasants shuffling listlessly through said fields, and an occasional backpacking tourist. The tourists usually look around the corn fields and failing to locate a museum, gift shop, bathrooms or even a soda stand, usually leave without even seeing the pyramids up close.

We know whereof we speak, as we lived over 10 years
in the nearby Peruvian city
of Trujillo. In fact, perhaps not coincidentally, the Dowbrigade
was married (wife #1) in Moche, to a Peruvian Princess, daughter of a
local judge with shady connections in Moche which allowed us to avoid
certain time-consuming
legal prerequisites to matrimony required in more organized and supervised

The Moche marriage turned out to be almost as bloody
as the empire that preceded it, and these days our now ex-wife is looking
and more
like the tattooed sweetheart above. But let’s not get nasty, or mean-spirited,
this late in the game. We’re bigger than that.

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14 Responses to 1,500 Year Old Tattooed Lady Appears in Peru

  1. I couldn’t really see her face, but so interesting to see

  2. I wanted to research this subject and write a paper. Your post what a thousand words would not. Nice job.

  3. Sarah says:

    I must say this is a fascinating article, the question I have is what exactly do you think would have happened if this was discovered by treasure hunters? Cheap Jewelry Accessories.

  4. weeksgo says:

    Nice article. It is cool, but not really able to see the tattoos.

  5. Tricia M says:

    Very interesting article – the history of tattoos fascinates me, they developed in so many cultures. It strikes me that man has always needed to express himself artistically and even when they lived a nomadic lifestyle they would carry their artwork with them on their bodies.

  6. Tattoos says:

    It is one of the wonderful historical picture.

  7. Amy Jewell says:

    I would love to see the pyramids of Peru. It is one of the places I would love to see before I die – and hopefully won’t die in the same way as this poor woman!

  8. Jo says:

    Interesting article, we saw a few mummies in Arequipa, which we was in a museum, which was really intersting. Its amazing that you can still see the tattoos after all this time.

  9. Elena Adams says:

    The tattoo looks like it must have been exquisite in life. I’m fascinated by the use of jewelry throughout history, and I’d love to see more about what she was buried with. How sadly beautiful.

  10. Very interesting article thanks for sharing. Im a tatoo lover and i didnt know all that about tatoos. Thanks for that

  11. I know it sounds macabre, but I do find ancient treasures fascinating when getting ideas for my home jewelry business. Thanks for this – wish I’d found it years ago!

  12. E74 Error says:

    Cool article – I saw something similar when I was in Peru a few years ago. Thanks

  13. Dr Gaf says:

    Interesting article – thanks.

  14. Bella Woods says:

    I read a lot on Egyptian history because I am amazed in a way of the richness of it’s history.. so much have been told and indeed it is the place where ancient civilization all started. One in particular is their tradition when it comes to death and what they do to the dead body, I haven’t seen a live mummified body..
    Interesting, I didn’t know that tattoos could last that long, I mean isn’t it that dead bodies decompose and whats left are merely bones, so how come the tattoo is still visible- this could mean that there’s skin? Is that really true, Amazing huh!
    Tattoo on the other hand fascinates me as well, body painting has been an ancient practice but what I know is that they’re using henna which is a temporary tattoo, I did not know they have permanent tattoos that time, wow!

    If you guys wanna learn about henna tattoo read on-
    henna tattoo design

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