"Underneath Lima's roads and train tracks lies its untold history, and we're bringing these hidden leaves back to light..."
The city of Lima, Peru, is often described as a multi-layered historical onion or a treasure chest of surprises. A group of gas line workers certainly got more than they bargained for when they unearthed eight ancient burial bundles while expanding the city’s gas network.
“Underneath Lima’s roads and train tracks lies its untold history, and we’re bringing these hidden leaves back to light,” said Jesus Bahamonde, an archaeologist at Calidda, the firm responsible for Lima’s gas distribution.
Over nearly two decades, Calidda’s infrastructure projects have revealed a staggering 1,900 artifacts, ranging from mummies and pottery to ancient textiles. Most of these discoveries have been linked to flat-terrain burial grounds.
The City’s Sacred Sites
It’s worth noting that Lima isn’t just a modern metropolis; it’s home to over 400 significant archaeological digs scattered across the cityscape. Referred to as “huacas” in the indigenous Quechua language, these age-old structures are usually perched atop hills deemed sacred by native cultures.
Given the city’s lengthy history—dating back 10,000 years and transitioning from pre-Inca civilizations to the Inca Empire, followed by Spanish colonization in 1535—such findings are hardly a revelation.
Bahamonde displayed the burial bundles, which were carefully wrapped in cotton fabric and secured with liana ropes. Discovered about a foot beneath the ground, these bundles are believed to be part of the pre-Incan Ichma culture, which thrived in Lima’s valleys until the late 15th century. According to archaeologist Roberto Quispe, who also participated in the excavation, the bundles are likely to contain two adults and six children.
History in Unexpected Places
Intriguingly, not all artifacts belong to ancient times. In a 2018 dig in La Flor neighborhood, archaeologists found 19th-century coffins containing the remains of three Chinese immigrants. These were accompanied by a curious array of objects like opium pipes, homemade cigarettes, and a Spanish employment contract from 1875.
The eight burial bundles were discovered close to some popular chicken restaurants and a road leading to Peru’s only nuclear power plant. “When the Spanish colonizers arrived in the 16th century, they encountered thriving communities in the valleys that today make up Lima. In a way, our history has been ongoing,” Bahamonde emphasized.
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