Archaeologists in Peru have unearthed the 4,500-year-old mummy of a noblewoman that experts believe could provide new insights into the ancient Caral civilisation. The mummy was found buried in the ancient fishing village of Aspero in northern Peru along with objects featuring carved details of both coastal and jungle animals like birds and monkeys.

The images of the coastal and jungle animals indicate possible trade between Aspero and the city of Caral, the most ancient civilisation of its kind in South America and the precursor of the Incas. The two regions are located 14 miles from each other.

Ruth Shady, director of the Caral Archaeological Zone, explained the significance of the discovery. "The sacrifice of human beings are not regular, they're very rare," she said. "In this case it is a woman of 40 to 50 years old who was buried with evidence and objects that allow us to identify her as a woman of important social status."

The Caral civilisation dates back to 2,600BC and predates the Inca civilisation by some 4,000 years.