A 1000-year-old tomb with an odd golden mask that was found buried in the shape of a lotus blossom

The Sican culture, also referred to as the Lambayeque culture lived in what is now the north coast of Peru between about 750 and 1375. Discovered and named after archaeologist Izumi Shimada, it is said the name Sican means “temple of the Moon”. While excavating in the region archaeologists unearthed an ancient tomb at the Las Ventanas mausoleum temple, in the Pómac Forest Historical Sanctuary, in the Lambayeque region, about 800 km north of Lima.

“We have managed to find the tomb of a figure who was working as a surgeon of the Sicán culture, more than 1,000 years old,” announced the archaeologist Carlos Elera.

Inside the tomb, archaeologists found “surgical instruments such as tumis or knives with a crescent-shaped edge (made of a mixture of gold and silver), dozens of knives with wooden handles, awls and needles were also found in the tomb. Likewise, the bark of an unknown tree that would be one of the plant species used as an analgesic or infusion,” the Infobae reports.

The Sican surgeon who found buried in a lotus flower position, sitting cross-legged. He was wearing a golden mask with feathered eyes and a large bronze breastplate.

“The character was a specialist in cranial trepanations and his surgical instruments were oriented to everything that was human skull surgery. In northern Peru, it is not usual to find this type of character,” said Elera, director of the Sicán National Museum. In ancient Peru, cranial trepanation was common practice as a surgical procedure to remove hematomas or remove parts of skull bones that were fractured probably during warrior clashes.To learn more and understand better ancient surgery, scientists will now compare the unearthed medical instruments with the medical equipment of a modern surgeon.”It is the first discovery of this type here in Lambayeque and in the north of the country. It dates from the year 900 to 1050 after Christ, of Middle Sicán cultural affiliation, which speaks of the specialization and expertise that existed at this time. We are not only documenting elite cult figures linked to metallurgy but also specialists and surgical interventions,” Elera said.

According to the Infobae, “Elera indicated that the discovery corresponds to archaeological investigations initiated between 2010-2011 in the southern necropolis of Huaca (temple) Las Ventanas. Work resumed last November but ended in January due to the rains in the area.

“We have to make a detailed typology of the surgical instruments to compare them with the Paracas instruments. There are some that coincide and some that don’t, but what is interesting is the case of Lambaye, where an object has the auction of the God of the Mask with Closed Eyes always present,” Elera added.The so-called Sicán culture – which emerged around the years 700 to 750 AD and was in force until 1375 – worshipped the Lord of Sicán, the most prestigious religious figure in northern Peru. At that stage, there were about seven to eight “lords of Sicán”, who represented heavenly power on earth, which they physically described with a mask with winged eyes and ears.”

Though metallurgy is one of the Sican’s greatest legacies, it cannot be denied these people were skilled in medicine, and other scientific fields as well.

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