Archaeologists have unearthed a well-preserved 1,300-year-old female mummy in a residential area of the Peruvian capital.
The woman was from the Wari culture, said archaeologist Isabel Flores, who heads work at the Huaca Pucllana, a mud-brick complex several blocks large located in the Miraflores district of Lima.
"It is an important find, because we have found over the years several tombs that have been looted, but never one that was intact," Flores told AFP on Tuesday.
Flores described the find as "a multiple tomb in which three funeral bundles were found. One has an impressive mask with the human characteristics of a woman."
The multi-layer fabric funeral bundles contain the mummies of the deceased, who were placed in a crouching position with their knees under their chin.
The mask has an aquiline nose, narrow lips, large eyes with white iris and round black pupils. The other mummies are believed to be those of a child and an adult.
The Waris were an influential Andean society that thrived between 700 and 1000. At its height the Wari kingdom encompassed much of the Peruvian Andes and coastal region.
Flores said the Waris commonly attached funeral masks to the mummies of noble women.
"It is a woman because in the surrounding area we found offerings and textile items like those of a (female) weaver," Flores said. The archaeologists also found ceramics and the remains of children who were offered as sacrifices to accompany the dead person in the afterlife.
Archaeologists made the find, dubbed "The Lady of the Mask," in the first week of August.
They believe the Huaca Pucllana is one of the most important pre-Columbian ceremonial and administrative centers in Lima.
Copyright AFP 2008