Discover the Magical El Brujo – The Tattooed Mummy of Cao

Discover the Magical El Brujo – The Tattooed Mummy of Cao
January 30, 2012 Lainie Liberti

The Moche Mummy – the Lady of Cao

The story of El Brujo and Lady of Cao as told by archaeologists is of one magic and intrigue. The historical pyramid and the female mummy have continued to intrigue historians even up to today. They from part of cultural traditions of the Peruvian people and as the years go by, more and more people have an interest to learn the secrets that have not been uncovered for many years now. Located just close to the sea, the El Brujo pyramid stands still and still amazes visitors due to its many legends as told by the inhabitants. According to some legends, the pyramid had gold that slowly sank and disappeared to the depths of the sea. Still others claim that there were golden bells right in the pyramid and most villagers fought to have a share of the bell. When it was finally removed from the pyramid, it disappeared in neighboring valleys.

Whichever the version each legend has, it is clear that the openings to the pyramid resulted from looting done by treasure hunters in early colonial era.

The splendour of El Brujo was built during the Mochica occupation in early 700AC. Following the ancient tradition, these pyramids become a center for religious happenings by the lordships of Chicama valley (of the later Chumu civilization). Although there were other religious and administrative centres in and around the valley  like the Temple of the Sun and the Moon near Trujillo, this particular complex stood out. The other minor centres were constructed to resemble the El Brujo complex with temples that had high flat top pyramids and axis that were oriented to the north. One of the most stunning relics of civilization is without doubt the site presumably built for the Lady of Cao.


Discovered near a ceremonial site in Peru, the female mummy had heavily tattooed arms. Besides the tattooed arms, this mummy was found in possession of other ceremonial belongings that included weapons, remain of the sacrificed teenage girl and pieces of jewellery. Never before had archaeologists witnessed a total array in a tomb near this area.

It is believed that the fine ornaments and jewellery was an indication that this lady was a high ranking one in society. However, something that continues to stun researchers to date is the presence o war clubs around this mummy a very unusual phenomenal among females. There are so many studies carried out that go ahead to explain the high relief representations at this site. It is clear that the pyramid is directly connected to domestic world that include ritual events, human sacrifices and offerings among other things.

Additionally, the presence of the stunning murals of geometrical designs and fishes a long with its location near the sea is indication that it is a temple for traditional gods. Although this is yet to be confirmed by researchers residents still think that there is some truth in this hypothesis. A visit to this place cannot be complete until you have seen the magical El Brujo and Lady of Cao. To many this is place where memories and created and natured and there are ready guides who are more than willing to offer insight into these historical wonders.

We shared the day exploring this wonderful piece of Peru’s history with our wonderful friends, Dixie, Bubba & Liz  from

To learn more about the discovery, National Geographic has a wonderful article  here.



  1. Fascinating stuff. No idea they has such fascinating ruins in Peru. Yet another reason for me to go there!

    • Author
      ilainie 12 years ago

      With every site we visit, I’m more and more amazed. I love this country, so rich in history. Thanks for the comment Will! 

  2. Gail Kohler 7 years ago

    I wanted to know what the stacks and stacks of what appear to be bricks that line the back ground behind the pyramid grounds are? And I find this so very fascinating, so I was very disappointed that the writing in the pictures is so small I could not read it. So I barely learned anything of what was described for the pictures. I did increase the size of my page many times which barely helped and I still was not able to read most of it. A better description of what things are would help a great deal. Maybe have someone proof read articles before final printing would help a great deal as well. Sentences and words not being in the right order can be confusing for some. But over all this has been so very interesting. You are doing a great job!

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