Archaeologists with the Brüning Museum in Lambayeque have made an astounding discovery at the Chotuna-Chornancap archaeological site: Beneath the tomb of a recently unearthed 13th century high priestess, they found another elaborate burial chamber submerged below the water table.
In the watery tomb, they found the remains of an important a religious authority, whose gender has yet to be determined, accompanied by three other individuals, adorned and surrounded by a trove of ancient artifacts.
Lead archaeologist Carlos West La Torre told reporters that to excavate the tomb, his team had to drill two adjacent wells and continually drain the accumulated water in the chamber, pumping out between 3,000 and 5,000 liters per day.
He added that the tomb, submerged for about eight centuries, was probably left flooded on purpose because of the magical-religious symbolism that water had for the Lambayaque culture, which rose after the fall of the 500-year dominance of the Moche culture.
Chotuna has a special significance for the Department of Lambayeque because it’s the site identified with the Legend of Naylamp, the mythic founder of the post-Moche Lambayeque (or Sican) civilization, which flourished along Peru’s northern coast from around 750 to 900 AD and declined around 1375 during the rise of the Inca Empire.
Naylamp is said to have come ashore with his people on a flotilla of rafts. The story goes that when his tomb was defiled it unleashed a curse: 30 days of rain and flooding that drowned crops and destroyed towns.
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