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Archaeological Complex Puruchuco

The Archaeological Complex Puruchuco

Complejo Arqueológico de Puruchuco

Off the Carretera Central at km 4.5
  • Ate-Vitarte
City (Peru)
Phone Number
(+511) 494-2641

Puruchuco (meaning‚ Feather hat in Quecha) is located on km 4.5 of the Carretera Central east out of Lima in today's district of Ate. In the sprawling shantytown called Tupac Amaru lies the pre-Hispanic site, known to archaeologists as Puruchuco-Huaquerones that once was a main ceremonial center of the Incas. During archaeological investigations the archaeologist Guillermo Cock discovered the extent of the hidden settlement.

It appears that the elite of the Inca were buried here, together with common people who probably lived in the nearby hills. Bodies from ten different social classes were found. 500 year old bodies of more than two thousand men, women, and children were excavated from the large Inca graveyard.

Puruchuco Complex Today

It is estimated that the area may contain the human remains of up 10,000. Also recovered with the mummies were nearly 60,000 artifacts, valuables, food and everyday utensils. The well-preserved mummies, the rich textiles and other pieces recovered are for archaeologists the base to discover more details about the Inca Culture and the daily life of the people themselves.

As the archaeologists recovered the bodies, they found many of them in so called "mummy bundles", large cocoons that contained up to seven individuals and weighed 180 kilograms. Some of the bundles held adults and children together, wrapped in layers of raw cotton and exquisite textiles. About 40 of the large mummy bundles were decorated with false heads, known as "cabezas falsas" (faked heads). This type of heads was attached to mummy bundles of members of the Inca elite. One of the most important discoveries was the one of "El Rey del Algodón" (the Cotton King). He was wrapped in 150 kg finest cloth and had a "Feather hat". Wrapped and buried with him were an infant and numerous archaeological important objects (food, ceramics, furs...)

The investigations and excavation works of the biggest Inca cemetery found so far, have uncovered a lot of evidence that will help to understand the Incas much better. The mummy bundles and the amazing artifacts wrapped with them brought many new findings about the life and culture of the Incas that toppled a lot of old theories.

Puruchuco - The first gunshot victim in the "Americas"

In 2004 another amazing discovery was made in Puruchuco during the excavations of the great Inca cemetery. In a new site over 70 chaotically and without any funerary objects buried bodies (this is very uncharacteristic for the Incas) were found. Among them archaeologists discovered the first known gunshot victim in the Americas. Many of the unearthed skeletons showed signs of extreme violent hacking, tearing and impalement with iron weapons.

But one of the skulls unearthed, clearly shows an entrance and exit wound like those found in gunshot victims. An intensive investigation revealed that this Inca was shot during the Spanish conquest by a musket.

Despite historical documents showing Spanish brutality during the conquest of the "New World", there was only little physical evidence of what actually happened to native South Americans during and after the wars of the conquest. This new discovery in Puruchuco is the first evidence of Spanish violence and the proof of their use of firearms. Since the initial finding at least two other apparent gunshot victims have been discovered.

Puruchuco - The Museum

The on side Archaeological Museum nicely displays objects excavated at the Ruins of Puruchuco.


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