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It’s a bit early to start brainstorming your Halloween costume, but when inspiration strikes, you should definitely go with it. Archaeologists in Peru have reported the discovery of an ancient mural depicting what appears to be a knife-wielding spider god on the side of a 3,200-year-old adobe temple. The ambiguous remains of the image feature two geometric lines, associated with known imagery from pre-Columbian indigenous Cupisnique society, which occupied northern coastal Peru for almost 2,000 years. The spider is thought to be associated with rain and fertility rituals that might have taken place in the shrine and its attendant complex of buildings. The generally arid conditions of the surrounding topography would have meant rain — and its ruling deities — would have been a source of veneration. The shrine is located near a river, which suggests its ceremonial importance is related to water, according to Régulo Franco Jordán, archaeological director of the Augusto N. Wise Foundation.

“It’s likely that there was a special, sacred water ceremony held between January and March when the rains came down from the higher areas,” Jordán told La República (as quoted in the Guardian).

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the shrine was discovered last year by local farmers in the La Libertad region. The contemporary agricultural efforts of the farmers caused more than half of the archaeological site to be destroyed before officials intervened to preserve the historical find. Jordán has named the temple Tomabalito, or “little Tomabal,” in reference to the nearby ruin of Castillo de Tomabel.

“The site has been registered and the discovery will be covered up until the [COVID] pandemic is over and it can be properly investigated,” Jordán told La República. More will be revealed in time, but “knife-wielding spider god” is an early frontrunner for the most badass-sounding ancient diety of 2021.

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Sarah Rose Sharp

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....

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