Peru reconstructs face of ancient female leader

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Lady of Cao could have been a priestess or a political ruler

Scientists in Peru have managed to reconstruct the face of a powerful ancient female leader using 3D printing.

The woman, known as the Lady of Cao, belonged to the Moche culture in northern Peru and died 1,700 years ago.

Her preserved remains were found in 2006 at a mud-brick ruined pyramid known Huaca Cao Viejo, near Trujillo.

Scientists were able to replicate her face after analysing her skull structure and remains.

The Lady of Cao was buried with a crown, and gold and copper items.

The grave also contained a number of weapons, including two massive war clubs and 23 spear throwers.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Her body had been preserved by the dry temperatures of her tomb

A modern autopsy revealed she had been in her 20s when she died, probably of childbirth or pregnancy complications.

Her feet, legs and face were tattooed with magic symbols of serpents and spiders.

The richness of her burial site suggests she might have been a priestess or even a political ruler.

The discovery challenged the belief that only men held high positions in ancient Moche society.

Peru's minister of Culture, Salvador del Solar, said the reconstruction had revealed an oval face with high cheekbones, which many Peruvians shared and would recognise.

"We are privileged to announce this strange combination of the future and the past: technology has allowed us to see the face of a political and religious leader from a culture from the past."

Oval face and high cheekbones - a close-up of the replicated face

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Close-up of the replicated face showing, in detail, the oval face and high cheekbones

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