lake of the condors and leymebamba Mummy Museum

Lake of the Condors Tombs

In 1997 a tomb site was discovered on the vertical cliffs that drop down into the Laguna de los Condores. It quickly made headline news and soon travellers were making the difficult trek over the mountains to pose for photos with the mummies. The site itself had been found by farm workers in 1996 and they had gone through the tombs searching for riches. In June of 1997 the site was closed off and plans were made to do an emergency study of the site and decide how to bring the mummies and artifacts to Leymebamba for care and study.

Pictographs on the cliffs above the tombs at Lake of the Condors

Even though the site had been disturbed the team of archaeologists organized by the NGO Centro Mallqui recovered over 200 mummies and more than 200 other artifacts. Apart from the odd machete mark made by the looters the state of preservation of everything was exceptional, considering the site was previously last touched 500 years ago. The tombs have a large overhang above them which protected the ledge from rain and caused a micro-climate which in turn helped preserve their contents of ceramics, textiles, gourds, wooden figures and bones .

Mummies recovered from Lake of the Condors

In September 1997 the archaeologists with funding from Discovery Channel who filmed the event, brought all the artifacts and mummies down to Leymebamba, where they could be properly studied. Housed initially in a local dwelling many groups of specialists came to help with investigations and it was obvious that the discovery was so special it was worthy of its own museum, on which construction started in 1998.

Leymebamba Mummy Museum

Today visitors can wander through four rooms of the purpose built museum with many of the best finds on display, including some of the quipus (knotted strings used for accounts by the ancients) and of course an environmentally controlled mummy room.

More than twenty years later the studies are far from over: such was the importance of this find.