A mummy of a 4 year old girl, as well as numerous Inca and pre-Inca ceramics were uncovered by police in two homes in the Cusco region, preventing them from being sold on the black market.
The surprise operation, which took place on Friday, was the result of investigative work carried out by the regional police force.
The two homes where the collections of artefacts were found are located in the district of Pisac in the sacred valley.
As soon as ancient artefacts are safely out of Peru, they are openly sold through large auction houses like Christie’s who support the illegal trade in cultural heritage.
The mummy of the Inca child, found in the first house that was searched, was found covered by a Inca mantle and in a state of decomposition. In the same home was another textile from the Paracas culture and 23 ceramic items from the ancient Chavín and Moche cultures. In the second home were found 15 Inca era ceramics.
According to officials, the items were to be sold on the black market to collectors. Those involved in the smuggling are expected to be charged with crimes against national heritage.
Poor rural Peruvians are disconnected from their heritage, so much so that the vast majority of archaeological sites in Peru have been completely destroyed beyond all hope of recovery.
Most sites look like the lunar surface, covered in holes dug by the tomb robbers. If you in the developed world wonder why we know so little about pre-Columbian cultures, ask the collector who lives down the street from you.