Archaeologists were right to sit on their discovery of an ancient, intact Wari temple in Peru for fear that it would be looted. The Pacific Standard explained:
Score one for the clever archaeologists and zero for the evil antiquities smugglers. A few weeks back, news broke that a joint Peruvian/Polish team had discovered an intact, unlooted temple dating back at least 1,200 years to the Wari, Latin America’s first empire, who ruled the central Andes before the Incas. A King Tut-like discovery in the Americas would be news itself, but this story had an additional wrinkle: The archaeologists had sat on the discovery for months, fearing that if word got out, tomb raiders would come and strip the find to nothing.
Restraint on a discovery of this scale shows just how aggressive the modern artifacts market can be. We don’t know much about the Wari, and the findings from the dig are likely to be discipline-altering for archaeology, and career-making for the scholars involved. The nearly pristine silver and gold artifacts found in the millennia-old tombs will be priceless.
For more information on the discovery and the Wari, see National Geographic’s First Unlooted Royal Tomb of Its Kind Unearthed in Peru.