A rare, undisturbed royal tomb has been unearthed in Peru, revealing the graves of three Wari queens buried alongside gold and silver riches and possible human sacrifices.
Though the surrounding site has been looted many times, this mausoleum has managed to evade grave robbers for hundreds of years, archaeologists say.
Long before the Inca built Machu Picchu, the Wari empire flourished between A.D. 700 and 1000 throughout much of present-day Peru. At a time when Paris had just 25,000 residents, the Wari capital Huari was home to 40,000 people at its height, according to National Geographic, which reported the find. (In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World)
Despite their reach, the Wari have remained somewhat mysterious, and it is rare for archaeologists to find burials that have not been ravaged by grave robbers. In hauling away treasures, looters destroy archaeological context and information, leaving researchers grasping for answers about how ancient people lived.
But a team led by Polish and Peruvian archaeologists discovered an underground mausoleum that's being billed as the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb, sealed for centuries under 30 tons (27 metric tons) of loose stone fill.