Since 1997, Peruvian law has protected the haunting Chauchilla ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ, a Nazca burial ground where ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪғɪᴇᴅ corpses were laid to rest until the ninth century. Prior to 1997, it was ravaged mercilessly by Peruvian grave robbers. For many of these ancient corpses, it was the second time they lost their ʜᴇᴀᴅs.
Scattered among the many full-bodied ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪᴇs at Chauchilla ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ are a number of ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪғɪᴇᴅ ʜᴇᴀᴅs. Many of the ʜᴇᴀᴅs have been specially prepared with holes drilled into the backs of their skulls, and in some cases rope has been threaded through the ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪғɪᴇᴅ ʜᴇᴀᴅ. This is possibly so they could be worn as a necklace or as a jaunty charm hanging off of a belt.
Though originally believed to be “trophy heads” taken in battles, recent evidence shows that the ʜᴇᴀᴅs actually came from the same population as the rest of the ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪᴇs, suggesting the ʜᴇᴀᴅs may not have been taken in battle after all. The exact nature and use of the heads remains distinctly unclear.
Despite the fact that the burial grounds have not been utilized since the ninth century, the human remains are astoundingly well-preserved. The Peruvian Desert’s dry climate is of course a factor in the preservation, but burial practices also contributed to the condition of many of the corpses, some still hanging on to their hair and skin over 1200 years after their demise.
Clothed in cotton and painted with resin, the deceased were placed in mud-bricked ᴛᴏᴍʙs .
Wooden posts that were once assigned by archeologists to the category of religious use are now thought to be drying posts for the ᴅᴇᴀᴅ, which would explain the added step needed for such an impressive example of mummification.
Discovered in the 1920s, the remains and artifacts were spread across the area, picked over by nefarious pilferers. The burial ground has been restored to as close to its original state as possible, with the bones, bodies, ʜᴇᴀᴅs , and artifacts either returned to ᴛᴏᴍʙs or showcased in displays.