19 Statues Buried and Forgotten in Peru Break Their 750-Year Silence

An expert works to uncover one of the wooden sculptures recently uncovered at the ancient archaeological site of Chan Chan, in the outskirts of the northern city of Trujillo, Peru. (Photo: Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images)

Peru has a wealth of archaeological treasures because it was once home to a number of ancient cultures. Sites like Machu Picchu from the Inca Empire and Kuélap, a walled settlement built by the Chachapoyas culture, attract tourists and researchers alike.

One of those sites is Chan Chan, once the largest pre-Columbian era city in South America. Built by the Chimú culture sometime around 850, the area has been a boon to archaeologists who study ancient societies, and it's one that keeps on giving. On Oct. 22, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture announced the unearthing of 19 wooden statues that had been buried more than 750 years ago.

And the statues are a little scary-looking, too.

The statues are each about 28 inches (70 centimeters) tall. (Photo: Cris Bouroncle)

"In the passageway, recently found in the citadel of Chan Chan, 19 wooden idols covered with clay masks have been found, which is the result of the work of archaeologists, curators and engineers, who make these important revelations thanks to the sustained investment that the Ministry of Culture carries out," Minister of Culture Patricia Balbuena said in the ministry's statement.

Twenty statues were found, but one of them had been destroyed.

Each of the statues represents a different 'anthropomorphic character,' according to the Ministry of Culture. (Photo: Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images)

Vaguely resembling the spirit No-Face from the animated film "Spirited Away," the statues average about 28 inches (70 centimeters) tall. Each one has a clay mask of some kind over where its face would be, representing some different sort of "anthropomorphic character." Each also has scepter in one hand, and in the back they have a circular object that may be a shield of some kind.

No mention regarding the significance of the statues was made in the ministry's statement.

In addition to the wooden statues, a wall relief was also unveiled. The relief features wave motifs, scrolls and a "zoomorphic motif" of either a feline or a lunar animal.

This 108-foot-long (30 meters) corridor leads to the chamber containing the statues. (Photo: Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images)

The Chimú civilization began around 850 and is believed to have reached the zenith of it expansion in the late 15th century. It fell to the Inca Empire shortly after that.

Chan Chan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The layout of the city reflects a "strict political and social strategy, emphasized by their division into nine 'citadels' or 'palaces' forming independent units," according to UNESCO. The archaeological site covers 7.7 square miles (20 square kilometers), with emphasis placed on multiple walled palaces made of adobe.