The face of the Lady of Cao, considered to be a queen who ruled northern Peru 1,700 years ago, was revealed on Tuesday thanks to 3D technology developed by private companies, as was a replica of her mummified body, appearing just as it was found in 2005 at the El Brujo archaeological complex.
The Lady of Cao, who died at about age 25 after giving birth, was a woman with an oval countenance, a brown complexion and long black hair in two braids, according to the reproduction and the research work done by FARO Technologies, 3D Systems, Grupo Abstract and ARQ 3D.
The queen who held political and religious power in the Chicama River Valley had a diadem of gold on her head and wore a large V-shaped crown with the image of a puma in the center and a necklace with large beads, each bearing the same feline face.
The replica of her mummy shows the snake and wild animal tattoos she had on her arms and feet, wildlife from the northern Peruvian coast.
Other tattoos on her body included spiders, the tree of life, star-like figures, all of which were considered sacred elements and which also appear on the friezes of the larger temples in the El Brujo archaeological complex.
Archaeologist Regulo Franco, who led the 2005 expedition that found the Lady of Cao in the La Libertad region, said that his discovery, sponsored by the Wiese Foundation, “is very significant because the remains of a woman who had governed a valley on Peru’s northern coast had never been found before.”
He said that the monarch had with her in her tomb the emblems of power bearing designs and images of the Moche culture, the most developed social and political grouping in northern Peru before the Inca Empire.
Peruvian Culture Minister Salvador del Solar said during the presentation at Lima’s Museum of the Nation that it was a privilege to announce this “strange and rare combination of the future and the past” of being able to see the face of a long-dead leader.
The general manager of the Wiese Foundation, Ingrid Claudet said that FARO last year proposed scanning the body of the Lady of Cao and reconstructing her face, using the most sophisticated technology, and a forensic engineer used the image to sculpt a 3D reproduction of her head, muscle by muscle, adding skin and facial details by making use of a photographic archive of women living in the region where the queen lived.
The exhibit will remain on display for two weeks at the Museum of the Nation in Lima and later will be transferred to the El Brujo museum, some 570 kilometers north of the Peruvian capital.