Archaeologists in Peru have found 40 mummies dating from the 1,200-year-old Chachapoyas culture in the Amazon fortress of Kuelap, project leader Alfredo Narvaez told local media on Wednesday.
He said the mummies were discovered alongside Inca pottery, and that they showed signs of being affected by a fire in the archaeological complex, some 1,409 km northeast to the nation's capital.
He said the bodies had been buried under a platform of 24 meters in diameter in the El Tintero structure during a dig of the Kuelap Archaeological Complex Restoration and Conservation project.
El Tintero contained six circular buildings, which appeared to be homes to residents of that time. The mummies, both men and women of all ages, were found both inside and outside the buildings, Narvaez said, noting it seems there was no time to bury them.
The mummies may have been victims of an epidemic or a violent invasion which ended in a massacre and the burning of the stone fortress, Narvaez said.
The Chachapoyas, one of the higher cultures of ancient Peru, had settlements from the Mara and Urubamba River to Abiseo Basin with a capital in the Utcubamba Basin, in the current Amazonas region.
The Chachapoyas stone fortress, which is some 3,000 meters above sea level, was built in the year 800 A.D. It occupies six hectares and has three defense platforms.