The Lady of Cao

The Lady of Cao could have been a priestess or a political ruler. Scientists in Peru have managed to reconstruct the face of a powerful ancient female leader using 3D printing. A modern autopsy revealed she had been in her 20s when she died, probably of childbirth or pregnancy complications.

Her feet, legs and face were tattooed with magic symbols of serpents and spiders.

The richness of her burial site suggests she might have been a priestess or even a political ruler.

The discovery challenged the belief that only men held high positions in ancient Moche society.

Peru’s minister of Culture, Salvador del Solar, said the reconstruction had revealed an oval face with high cheekbones, which many Peruvians shared and would recognise.

“We are privileged to announce this strange combination of the future and the past: technology has allowed us to see the face of a political and religious leader from a culture from the past.”