Artifacts recovered from the Priests tomb. Peru Ministry of Culture.

3,000-Year-Old Priest’s Tomb Unearthed in Peru

A stunning archaeological discovery.


In the rugged terrains of northern Peru, a significant archaeological discovery has come to light. Teams from Japan and Peru have unveiled a tomb, believed to belong to an ancient priest. Remarkably preserved, the tomb sheds light on Peru’s rich cultural tapestry.

Finding the Past at Pacopampa

At the Pacopampa archaeological site, located 560 miles north of Lima in the Cajamarca region, this extraordinary tomb was discovered. “We’ve unveiled a tomb of a figure that dates back 3,000 years,” revealed archaeologist Juan Pablo Villanueva. He emphasized the rarity of the find, noting that it was among the first Andean priests with a diverse range of offerings.

The priest’s remains, with legs partly flexed, lie from south to north. Adjacent to him, on the tomb’s western side, researchers unearthed spherical ceramic bowls, a bone spatula intricately carved, and several other offerings. Also found were two distinctive seals, one bearing an anthropomorphic face and the other featuring a jaguar design.

Multiple layers of ash and earth enveloped the body and offerings. The tomb itself, circular in shape, spans 10 feet in diameter and is approximately 3.3 feet deep.


The Andes’ First Powerful Leaders

Japanese archaeologist Yuji Seki, who has dedicated 18 years to the site, stressed the importance of the discovery. “This find showcases the emergence of powerful leaders in the Andes, even 3,000 years ago,” he stated. Research indicates the priest existed around 1,000 BC.

Earlier in September 2022, this same team stumbled upon another significant tomb, over 3,000 years old. This tomb, named “Priest of the Pututos,” contained seashell musical instruments. These conch-like shells, called pututos or pututus, were ancient Peruvian instruments producing trumpet-like sounds.

Nestled at an elevation of 8,200 feet, the Pacopampa site boasts nine monumental ceremonial structures crafted from carved and polished stone. This site previously revealed other notable burials, including the “Lady of Pacopampa” in 2009 and two “Jaguar Serpent priests” in 2015, both estimated to be from around 700 to 600 BC.


The Pacopampa excavations see collaboration between the National Museum of Ethnology in Japan and Peru’s National University of San Marcos.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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