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This is a report on Inca burials excavated at the site of Farfán on Peru’s North Coast. Farfán was excavated by Carol J. Mackey from 1999 until 2004. Bioarchaeologist Andrew J. Nelson analyzed the human remains recovered. An important provincial center, Farfán was occupied successively by the Lambayeque, Chimu, and Inca cultures. This monograph postulates that female Inca burials at Farfán were those of aqlla, the “chosen women”, virgins who played important roles variously as weavers of fine cloth and brewers of chicha, as high status brides of important men, as religious officiants, and as the victims of human sacrifices. Farfán is one of only three sites where aqlla burials have been scientifically excavated. Tomb architecture is revealed and grave goods are illustrated and analyzed. Included is a complete inventory of ceramics recovered and analyses of textiles and camelid bones, as well as isotopic studies.

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The Department of Anthropology of the University of Maine, Orono is the publishing institution for ANDEAN PAST MONOGRAPHS. Copyright for ANDEAN PAST MONOGRAPHS is held by DigitalCommons@UMaine subject to expansive personal use exceptions. If a portion of a monograph is copyrighted by a third party, authors must request specific written permission from that party to republish. This includes online postings in electronic format. ANDEAN PAST MONOGRAPHS takes the green route to open access.


Department of Anthropology, University of Maine, Orono




Inca, Lambayeque, Chimu, aqlla, bioanthropology


Archaeological Anthropology

Life, Death and Burial Practices during the Inca Occupation of Farfán on Peru's North Coast



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