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Rare Ancient Peruvian Death Mask Found Off Florida Coast

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The mask is made mainly of copper, although it also contains traces of gold, silver and iridium — a material which is found in meteorites.
 
An ancient Peruvian death mask was found on Melbourne Beach, off the coast of Florida in the United States, ex-MIT professor and Army Ranger Mike Torres said, adding that the artifact is believed to be about 10,000-12,000 years old.
 
The yet-to-be-officially-dated metal mask was smelted by an ancient South American civilization long before European contact, Torres stated, explaining that it would be considered an early example of human metalworking.
 
"They had to, at one point, figure out blast furnaces," he said. "It took serious thought to smelt this... That changes things, and may change the way we perceive ancient Peruvian cultures."
 
The mask is made mainly of copper, although it also contains traces of gold, silver and iridium — a material which is found in meteorites.
 
Torres charged that the mask was likely stolen by Spanish tomb raiders, from a tomb in the South American country. “To contain iridium, it came from a very very important or royal tomb and was likely on its way back to Spain as a gift to royalty.”
The Peruvian artifact is part of a funeral headpiece from a pre-Incan civilization in the country, the archaeologists told Fox 35 news.
 
Torres is a member of a crew of researchers, who have been combing through an area believed to be the location of a major and significant treasure haul — which the group estimates to be worth some US$4 million — that is buried in the region, a News 6 WKMG report says.
 
"There are not many examples of this in the world today," Torres explained, regarding the new breakthrough of the crew’s decade-long expedition.
 
The ranger’s employer, Seafarer Exploration Corporation, declares that the lost treasure was aboard a Spanish vessel which sank — on a voyage to Spain from Cuba — in the early 1700s.
 
The group says finding the entire treasure would be, arguably, the most extraordinary historic archaeological find in the past century, adding that the mask is a major link in a “debris trail” that could locate the haul.
 
Seafarer Exploration Corporation — and Torres — and the state of Florida will be allowed to retain and split the haul 80%-20%, respectively.
 
Torres claims the find would be placed in a collection and preserved for public viewing. / Telesur

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