Talk about ancient girl power!
Archaeologists working in Peru have uncovered the skeleton of a woman believed to have been a high priestess of a mysterious culture that existed around 1,200 years ago. The pre-Hispanic remains were found in late July in an impressive burial chamber located in the country's northern Chepén province, according to the Agence France-Presse.
(Story continues below.)
The priestess seems to have been a leader of an ancient culture known as the Moche, or Mochia. Around 2,000 years ago, the Moche dominated the cultural landscape of what is now northern Peru, building large pyramids from mud bricks before disappearing without explanation. The name Moche comes from the site of Moche, an ancient capital city.
Researchers have spent years attempting to unravel the riddles of a society which left no written record. According to the BBC, illustrations show the Moche engaged in brutal bouts of ritualized combat that ended with the losers being sacrificed.
The priestess discovered in Chepén was buried with child and adult human sacrifices, AFP reports. She joins the list of several other priestesses who have been found in northern Peru in the past few years.
"This find makes it clear that women didn't just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society," project director Luis Jaime Castillo told AFP. "It is the eighth priestess to be discovered. Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men."
Arguably the most important of these was an elaborately-tattooed female mummy discovered in a burial chamber filled with treasure and weapons. Announced to the public in 2006, the Moche mummy was later dubbed the "Lady of Cao" and is believed to have been a leader of the civilization between 1,700 and 1,600 years ago before dying in childbirth, according to the site Living in Peru. At the time, archaeologists said the discovery of the Lady of Cao was similar in significance to the discovery of King Tut's tomb in Egypt, according to National Geographic.