1928 a seven-foot-tall clay man when it fell from the cliff of the Utcubamba Valley during an earthquake in. Now archeologists have discovered that this clay man is actually a fascinating artifact belonging to a lost civilization, dating back to the 1400s!
Perched high up along a narrow cliff ledge in the Utcubamba Valley, approximately 30 miles from the city of Chachapoyas in northern Peru, stand six gaunt, strange figures with cold, expressionless faces.
These old figures, topped with a few skulls, are found at Karajía, an archaeological site. They are known by the locals as “purunmachus,” or “old people.”
These purunmachus are actually the “sarcophagus,” or “clay tombs,” of the Chachapoya people.
The Chachapoyas, meaning “The Warriors of the Clouds” in Quechua, were an Andean people living in the humid cloud forests of the Amazon in present-day Peru, between the 9th and 15th centuries AD. They are a lost civilization dating back to the 1400s.
“They (the Chachapoya) were exceptional warriors who were headhunters and eventually scalpers too, shamans, farmers, traders, architects, climbers and cavers,” Peter Lerche, a historian and former mayor of the provincial capital Chachapoyas, told the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Each “sarcophagus” (clay tomb) made of straw clay and mud, as well as bamboo to create the elongated face and body, had stood on the ledge for over 600 years!
These capsule-like tombs placed vertically, and joined at the hip in groups of four to eight along the cliffside, are looking to the east, according to The Telegraph.
On top of that, the “bodies” of the sarcophagi were painted in red and white hues, with details including facial characteristics, necklaces, and body parts—most likely in accordance to the “portrait” of the deceased, as stated in an online report.
What’s inside each sarcophagus is even spookier! Within each coffin is a canvas bag, which contains offerings and mummified remains of Chachapoya people, seated in the fetal position.
The ancient Chachapoya people are believed to perform rituals for the dead, mummifying the bodies of their loved ones, in order to preserve them for eternal rest.
Peru has plenty of ancient and even prehistoric relics. The discovery of these “old people” is yet another interesting part of Peru’s cultural heritage.