View of the cover of the book "Women, Power and Nutrition in Ancient Peru" by Peruvian historian Maritza Villavicencio in Lima on March 14, 2018.
/ AFP / Cris BOURONCLE
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Women in ancient Peru, far from being marginalized and invisible, were political and economic decision-makers, according to a new study that challenges many traditional takes on the country's history. Historian Maritza Villavicencio sets out the findings that run counter to previous hypotheses that high-ranking pre-Columbian women in Peru were mere "priestesses" in "Mujer, poder y alimentacion en el antiguo Peru" ("Woman, power and food in ancient Peru"). In the book Villavicencio argues that women exercised political power in their communities in different areas of pre-Hispanic Peru.Shattering male-centric history The first mummy of a high-status woman was discovered in northern Peru in 1992, in an archeological site in San Jose del Moro, home to the people of the Late Sican period who lived there between the 12th and 14th centuries.The figure had long been considered a high priestess, though she was buried wearing the clothes of a ruler, along with the remains of eight elite women and a headdress. Villavicencio said that cloth mantles were believed to confer power to women in ancient Peru.
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