I knew the phrase “corpse-eating bugs” would get your attention! Apparently the Moche people would expose their recently deceased to corpse-eating bugs for a week before burial as an act of veneration.
Insect remains littered the grave, including the shells of at least 200 blowflies, alongside corpse beetles and other flesh-eating bugs. Moche art at the site contains numerous depictions of such insects, the team notes, surrounding sleletons and war captives, who were likely sacrificed at the pyramid. “Flies and death in Mochica iconography are dramatically depicted on Moche ceramics,” say the authors.
Weighing the numbers of insect remains, which would not have reached a body buried at least three feet deep, the archeologists estimate the man’s corpse was exposed for at least a week prior to burial. Unlike the ancient Egyptians and other ancient cultures, the Moche may have venerated corpse-eating insects, they conclude:
There is a major difference between the Moche view of flies and that of the ancient Near East, typified by the Egyptians. The latter did everything in their power to prevent flies from destroying the corpse, including enclosing written prayers with the body and embalming. The Egyptians hoped the ka would accompany the body of the deceased into eternity, whereas the Moche deliberately exposed the body to the flies with the hope that the anima or spirit of the deceased would be carried from the maggots into adult flies and through close contact with people, complete the human cycle.