Gladiz Collatupa, an archaeologist, once stashed six mummies at her parents' house for safe keeping. That was when she dug for artifacts in the dirt of Peru, rich with the leavings of past cultures like the Inca and the Moche. Now she digs through packages at the post office instead, searching for ancient treasure being smuggled out of the country.
Ms. Collatupa and a colleague, Sonia Rojas, an art historian, are a pair of Indiana Joneses in reverse. Instead of swashbuckling around the world looting ruins, they try to keep Peru's ancient riches from being spirited out of the country by mail.
"With less danger," noted Ms. Rojas, a petite woman in glasses with a keen interest in colonial Peruvian paintings. She wears a khaki vest with a large button that says, "I defend my cultural heritage."
The women work for Peru's Ministry of Culture as part of a program aimed at stopping the illegal export of valuable historic and prehistoric objects and artwork, a depletion that began nearly 500 years ago with the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire and has never stopped.
Last year, the post office team, which Ms. Collatupa joined in August, replacing another archaeologist, made 22 seizures, totaling dozens of items.