Mummified male body, Peru, 800-1400
This preserved mummy is from the north coast of Peru. He was a member of the Chimu culture, which flourished from around 1100 CE until it was absorbed into the Inca civilisation in the late 1400s. On burial, the body would have been seated in an upright position, with the knees at the face. It was often then wrapped in layers of fabric and sometimes a false head would be attached to the bundle – any such wrappings are absent in this example. The body was then buried with personal possessions, ritual objects and food offerings, revealing a strong belief in a continuing existence after death.
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Glossary: human remains
term created as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human hair'
Glossary: mummified human body
Glossary: The Incas
The largest empire in Pre-Columbian America. Its origins lie in the city-state created by the Quechuan people based in the high Cuzco valley in Peru from the 1100s. The Incas conquered large areas of South America during the 1400s. The empire was itself conquered by the arrival of Spanish adventurers in the following century.