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Carajía sarcophaguses.

Carajía or Karijia is an archaeological site in the Utcubamba Valley, located 48 km northeast of the city of Chachapoyas, Peru in Luya Province, Amazonas Region, where eight Chachapoyan mummies were discovered on the cliffside, referred to by local residents as the “ancient wise men”.[1]


The seven (originally eight) sarcophagi stand up to 2.5 meters tall, constructed of clay, sticks and grasses, with exaggerated jawlines. Their inaccessible location high above a river gorge has preserved them from destruction by looters. However, an earthquake toppled one of the original eight in 1928. They have been radiocarbon dated to the 15th century, coincident with the Inca conquest of the Chachapoya in the 1470s.[2]

The sarcophagi are of a type particular to the Chachapoya called purunmachus. The construction is painted white and overlaid with details of the body and adornment in yellow ochre and two red pigments, such as the feathered tunics and male genitalia visible on the Carajía purunmachus. Often the solid clay head will boast a second, smaller head atop it. The purunmachus of Carajía are unique because of the human skulls that sit atop their heads, visible in the photograph.[3]

See also[edit]

  • Chullpa, premodern Peruvian funerary tower


  1. ^ Englebert, Victor (2008-01-01), "Realm of the cloud people: a trek through the remote outposts of a lost pre-Columbian civilization.", Archaeology, Archaeological Institute of America, 61 (1): 40–45, ISSN 0003-8113 
  2. ^ Nystrom, Kenneth; Buikstra, Jane; Muscutt, Keith (2010), "Chachapoya mortuary behavior: a consideration of method and meaning.", Revista de Antropología Chilena, 42 (2): 477–495, doi:10.4067/s0717-73562010000200010 
  3. ^ von Hogen, Adriana. "An overview of Chachapoya archaeology and history" (PDF). Museo Leymebamba. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 

Coordinates: 6°09′43″S 78°01′17″W / 6.16194°S 78.02139°W / -6.16194; -78.02139