LIMA – Ancient burials of dogs and other animals continue to be found at the Lima municipal zoo, constructed on the site of a once-thriving pre-Columbian city, where excavations reveal the importance animals had for the inhabitants of Peru 1,000 years ago.
Under a millennium’s worth of rubble and rounded river stones, archaeologists at Lima’s Park of Legends Zoo excavated in recent months 10 dogs, two guinea pigs, a human and part of a llama, which are added to the remains of 134 humans and 138 dogs unearthed there between 2012-2013.
The recent discoveries were made at El Rosal Temple, one of the 54 archaeological monuments in the park, which also holds the most ancient ovens ever found in Lima, the head of the Park of Legends Archaeology Division, Lucenida Carrion, told EFE
The specialist said the animals dug up by archaeologists Karina Venegas and Ruben Sanchez were buried between the years 1000-1470 by members of the Ichma culture, responsible for building an adobe city in the area.
The canines would have been an offering buried to accompany deceased humans on their journey into death, and most were sacrificed by hanging, Carrion said.
“In some cases we found dogs placed in a resting position that had obviously been strangled with the cords tying up their legs and necks, while only one of them had its throat cut,” she said.
Carrion said the archaeologists recovered the complete skeletons of 48 humans and 63 dogs, since only the skulls were found of the other 86 people and 75 canines.
The expert said the humans died in the context of a conflict or violence of some kind because most of them were individuals between 20 and 40 years old who had suffered blows to the head and ribs before dying.
A few meters (yards) from the tombs, the researchers found an oven apparently used to make ceramics during a period “much earlier” than the burials, which would make it one of the most ancient ever discovered in Lima, Carrion said.
She added that the Culture Ministry will be asked to expand the research project in order to excavate the oven completely and to better determine the relation between humans and animals in this pre-Columbian society, established precisely in an enclave now used to exhibit Peru’s biodiversity and archaeological treasures.