Soon after arriving in Nazca, we discovered that there was much more to explore than just the famous Lines. We felt a particular attraction to the ancient cemetery of Chauchilla, and found a very friendly driver to take us there at the end of a sunny late October day. After taking a left turn from the Pan American Highway, our little Korean car jolted over the dirt track towards the hills in the east and managed surprisingly well. The panorama before us was fantastic: empty landscape, strangely coloured hills, and friendly clouds in the sky giving even more depth to the lonely scene. Appropriate enough for a cemetery.
The Nazcans used to wrap their deceased in embroidered cotton cloth and applied resin as a cover, after which they were put into a crouched position in specially dug family graves. All deceased were placed looking east. The dry climate resulted in natural mummification and turned the dead into testimonies of their own culture long after they died. Over time, grave robbers have been searching for these graves and have plundered the contents in search for treasures. Until recently, the pampa of Chauchilla was littered with bones, skulls, cloth; fortunately, the area has been organized and most of the remains have been placed in tombs again. Still, when you look a little closer, the pampa itself contains a lot of bones and pieces of cloth. It is thus that we can see it now - covered graves giving us insight in how the Nazca culture tended to their dead.
It is absolutely amazing to see these old remains - they are around 2000 years old - sitting in their graves, many still with (sometimes very long) hair, with clothes, patiently waiting for time to pass. Bones and skulls bleached by time and expore to the merciless sun try to show that our body can actually last for very long. Tombs still have remains of gifts for the dead that were given for the afterlife. Many graves are family graves, and it is quite shocking to see how many very young skulls there are. Indeed, because of diseases and bad nutrition, Nazcans never grew older than around 35 years. The tiny museum among other things shows a mummy which, upon closer inspection, shows signs of mutilation: the lips and eyes sewn together, which was apparently done as a punishment while the victim was still alive; the person died that way.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Chauchilla cemetery (Peru). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Chauchilla cemetery.
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