Experts from the Bruning National Archaeological Museum have discovered the tomb of a dignitary who belonged to the 10th-century Lambayeque culture in northern Peru, project director Carlos Wester La Torre told Efe.

After five years of excavations at the pre-Columbian Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological Complex in the Lambayeque region, the group of archaeologists uncovered "the first level of the tomb of a dignitary, a member of the local elite, from the first millennium after Christ," Wester said.

Found in the tomb was a kind of cloak measuring almost 6 square meters (65 square feet), used in the funerary ritual and decorated with an iconography displaying the "anthropomorphous wave and circles" that were a recurring theme in the art of Lambayeque culture.

The human remains were found under the cloak in a face-down position some 4 meters (13 feet) underground.

Also found at the site were ceramic offerings, a breastplate with 21 copper bells and a staff of copper and silver, as well as a square banner 55 centimeters (22 inches) on each side, a copper death mask and a copper-and-silver crown.

The discovery is one in a series of burials that archaeologists have been documenting at an architectural complex that, according to the project director, had been a small palace.

This tomb will allow the person's status to be identified along with his political and religious authority, but above all the relationships he would have established within the local and regional societies.

According to Wester, "the excavation will take until approximately December of this year" and for now, the research team is hoping "to remove the skeletal remains to do DNA studies."

The project, scheduled to go on for three or four more years, is financed by the Culture Ministry and has had some 50 people working at the site.

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