Lost for 2 700 years: Tomb of the Serpent Jaguar Priests Uncovered in Peru
Posted by Fredsvenn on October 9, 2015
A very interesting tomb has been uncovered in San Pedro de Pacopampa, Chota Province, Cajamarca Region, Peru. The tomb contains a double burial of what is believed to be high-ranking priests from the Pacopampa culture (a contemporary of the Chavin culture) of the Pre-Inca Formative Period. Elaborate grave goods were placed alongside the individuals who were buried around the same time as the previously encountered Lady of Pacopampa.
The two individuals were buried in the fetal position, with one facing the North and the other the South, according to La Republica. They were found in the same position and a similar location at the Pacopampa site to where the Lady of Pacopampa was discovered in 2009.
Along with the bodies, an elaborate necklace of 25 gold beads was found as well as a unique black ceramic bottle in the shape of a serpent with a jaguar head (from which the priests have received their nickname).
The hunting bag is an image normally used for tutelary deities, a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture or occupation. One type of tutelary deity is the genius, the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Pierre A. Riffard defines a tutelary spirit as either the genius (present since birth) or a familiar spirit.
The scholar Maciej Popko stated in his dissertation of 1978 that the kursa (the fleece) played an important role in religion and many old Hittite festivals. The kursa was a sacral attribute and was offered as a representative of a god. Popko explained how the Hittite kursa, a bag of leather, was made according to a text:
“They found the color and quality of the fleece important: six black rams (and) two white rams: (from) one makes the Fleece” and “six fleeces of rams, (each) bushy and well handled, the Overseer of the Shepherds makes fo[r ….(of each fleece] a godlike Fleece”. Some texts indicate that the kursa could have also been in the form of a shield or a cloth. It is then a cult symbol, which stands next to the sacral container with 20 arrows.
Popko remarked that there is a possibility that the kursa was not a shield but a skin, a fleece, which protected the arrow container. Hans Gustav Güterbock remarked that kursas could also been made from other materials like wood, reed, copper and beads. In the KI.LAM festival the “kursas of beads” are carried in the procession, following the priest of the tutelary deity and the spears, but before the “animals of the gods”, i.e. images of wild animals made of precious metals.
In Sumer, where the annunaki god (meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”, they take their name from the old sky god An/Anu) carries in one hand a purse-size bucket or “hunting bags” of holy water, also known as Kursa, and in the other dabs the air with a fruit that looks like a pine cone (representation of the pineal gland, the spiritual gateway of the human body).
The word structure of Sumerian is more complete than the word structure of the language of pre-Sumerian Ubaid writing (kush, kus “skin, leather”: Hittite kursa-; guza, Old Sumerian *kusa: Semitic *kursiy). All the Anunaki have wings. All are wearing bracelets with a disc, and all are carrying a pouch with handle in one hand, and thrusting a pine cone forward with the other.
Another intriguing feature of the skeletons is the supposed elongated craniums. This feature of the skulls, combined with the grave goods present and their location at the site, provides a context that suggests to the researchers that the two bodies were elite members of the society.
This is surprising for the team, who previously believed that there were no high-status persons in the Pacopampa culture. The new discovery also indicates to the researchers in the Proyecto Arqueologico Pacopampa that the site may have been a monumental ceremonial center at one time.
Artificial cranial deformation, head flattening, or head binding is a form of body alteration in which the skull of a human being is intentionally deformed. It is done by distorting the normal growth of a child’s skull by applying force.
Flat shapes, elongated ones (produced by binding between two pieces of wood), rounded ones (binding in cloth) and conical ones are among those chosen. It is typically carried out on an infant, as the skull is most pliable at this time. In a typical case, headbinding begins approximately a month after birth and continues for about six months.
Intentional head moulding producing extreme cranial deformations was once commonly practised in a number of cultures widely separated geographically and chronologically, and so was probably independently invented more than once. It still occurs today in a few places, like Vanuatu.
Early examples of intentional human cranial deformation predate written history and date back to 45,000 BC in Neanderthal skulls, and to the Proto-Neolithic Homo sapiens component (12th millennium BC) from Shanidar Cave in Iraq. It occurred among Neolithic peoples in Southwest Asia.
The Catacomb culture, ca. 2800–2200 BC, refers to a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine. The origin of the culture is disputed. Jan Lichardus enumerates three possibilities: a local development departing from the previous Yamna Culture only, a migration from Central Europe, or an oriental origin.
Huns and Alans are also known to have practised similar cranial deformation. In Late Antiquity (AD 300-600), the East Germanic tribes who were ruled by the Huns, adopted this custom (Gepids, Ostrogoths, Heruli, Rugii and Burgundians). In western Germanic tribes, artificial skull deformations have rarely been found.
In the Americas the Maya, Inca, and certain tribes of North American natives performed the custom. In North America the practice was especially known among the Chinookan tribes of the Northwest and the Choctaw of the Southeast.
Deliberate deformity of the skull, “Toulouse deformity”. Band visible in photo is used to induce shape change. In the region of Toulouse (France) these voluntary deformations were performed until the early twentieth century. Deformation usually begins just after birth for the next couple of years until the desired shape has been reached or the child rejects the apparatus (Dingwall, 1931; Trinkaus, 1982; Anton and Weinstein, 1999).
There is no established classification system of cranial deformations. Many scientists have developed their own classification systems, but none have agreed on a single classification for all forms that are seen (Hoshower et al., 1995). In Europe and Asia, three main types of artificial cranial deformation have been defined by E.V. Zhirov (1941, p. 82): Round, fronto-occipital and Sagittal.
The earliest written record of cranial deformation dates to 400 BC in Hippocrates’ description of the Macrocephali or Long-heads, who were named for their practice of cranial modification. Cranial deformation was probably performed to signify group affiliation, or to demonstrate social status. This may have played a key role in Maya society. It could be aimed at creating a skull shape which is aesthetically more pleasing or associated with desirable attributes.
For example, in the Nahai-speaking area of Tomman Island and the south south-western Malakulan (Australasia), a person with an elongated head is thought to be more intelligent, of higher status, and closer to the world of the spirits Some ancient astronaut theorists believe cranial deformation was a way for ancient peoples to imitate extra terrestrials who visited them.
The Native American group known as the Flathead did not in fact practise head flattening, but were named as such in contrast to other Salishan people who used skull modification to make the head appear rounder. However, other tribes, including the Choctaw, Chehalis, and Nooksack Indians, did practise head flattening by strapping the infant’s head to a cradleboard. The Lucayan people of the Bahamas practiced it. The practice was also known among the Australian Aborigines.
The nobility of the Paracas culture practiced skull binding, resulting in cranial deformation. The Paracas situation is somewhat unique in that researchers have found the presence of at least 5 distinct shapes of elongated skulls, each being predominant in specific cemeteries. The largest and most striking are from a site called Chongos, near the town of Pisco, north of Paracas. These skulls are called “cone heads” by many who see them, because of their literal conical appearance.
Friedrich Ratzel in The History of Mankind reported in 1896 that deformation of the skull, both by flattening it behind and elongating it towards the vertex, was found in isolated instances in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and the Paumotu group and occurring most frequently on Mallicollo in the New Hebrides (today Malakula, Vanuatu), where the skull was squeezed extraordinarily flat.