Chauchilla Cemetery (Cementerio de Chauchilla)

Chauchilla Cemetery


Location: 19 mi (30 km) South of Nazca

Used: 200 AD- 900 AD

Entrance Fee: 7 USD


Description of Chauchilla Cemetery

Chauchilla Cemetery is situated 19 mi (30 km) South of Nazca in Peru.  Chauchilla Cemetery is a World famous burial site that contains well preserved mummified human remains that date back to pre- Hispanic and even pre- Incan period. Most of the burials here date back to 200 AD- 900 AD. People who were buried here belonged to the Nasca people who were also famous for creation of the Nasca Lines that are situated nearby. No one knows why they chose the site on the bank of Poroma river as the site of their necropolis, but it is possible that it played an important role in the religion of these people.


The last burial here was date back to the 10th century. The site was abandoned, but local huaqueros (grave robbers) often visited this site and stole whatever they could get their hands on. Human remains were simply discarted on the desert floor around this archaeological site. Their scattered bones are still visible today.


Rediscovery of Chauchilla Cemetery

Chauchilla Cemetery was re- discovered by scientists only in the 1920s. It became an important source of information on people of the Nazca culture. In 1997 state of Peru finally turned ancient necropolis into a protected archaeological site. Today Chauchilla Cemetery is accessible via a dirt track from the Panamerican Highway.


The Nazca Culture Cemetery was discovered in the 1920s. The tombs date to a period of about 700 years from around the year 200 to the 9th century AD, well before the rule of the Incas.

The more than 100 graves were mostly destroyed by grave robbers. The scattered remains of bones and pottery shards were taken to the open graves during the excavations. The archaeological site has been protected by law since 1997.

The burial ground is located on the south bank of the Río Poroma River at the foot of the foothills of the Peruvian Western Cordillera and can be reached via a seven kilometer unpaved road from the Panamericana. It can be visited for a fee.

Several open individual and family graves can be visited. In the graves, which are only protected by light roofs, there are mummies, human bones and archaeologically irrelevant remains of the grave goods. All valuable finds were stolen or taken to museums.

The dead were seated, wrapped in cotton strands and treated with resin. They were then buried in pits lined with mud bricks. The extreme arid climate of the Peruvian coastal desert made it possible to conserve the mummies. The tomb robbers tore off the cotton wrapping from the torso of the mummies on display in order to gain access to clothing and jewellery, and the head was also severed in the process. The heads could often no longer be clearly assigned to the bodies. Some mummies have heads made out of cotton. There are theories that the heads were severed at sacrifice and kept elsewhere. When mummified, the bodies would have been given replacement heads to complete them.

The cemetery appears in the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Although a name is not mentioned in the film itself, the location can be clearly identified in the film plot and advertising material. In the film, the cemetery was decorated with mask-wearing Nazca guards and an underground burial chamber. In the film, the cemetery sits on a ledge overlooking the Nazca Valley and offers views across the Nazca Lines.

There is a building with sanitary facilities and an exhibition room on the site.