A dark history behind this perfectly preserved child mummy

A dark history behind this perfectly preserved child mummy

A dark history behind this perfectly preserved child mummy

A Frozen body of a 13 years old maiden along with two other bodies of children aged 3-4 were discovered in 1999, in a tomb placed beneath 22,110-foot elevation of mount Llullaillaco in Argentina, by Johan Reinhard, National Geographic’s Society Explorer-in-Residence with colleague Constanza Ceruti, of the Catholic University of Salta (Argentina). The bodies are believed to be naturally preserved due to the freezing conditions.

During the years when the frozen mummies from Mount Llullaillaco were maintained at the Catholic University of Salta, various interdisciplinary investigations were undertaken on them. These investigations included traditional X-rays and CT scans, which revealed information about the state and pathology of the bones and internal organs, as well as dental studies aimed at determining the ages of the three children at the time of death. Ancient DNA investigations and hair analysis were also carried out in collaboration with academic institutions such as George Mason University, the University of Bradford, and the University of Copenhagen's Laboratory of Biological Anthropology.

The study showed that the maiden has been a part of the child sacrificial ritual of Inca civilization which dates back to 500 years. Shrines were built on the summits of snow-capped peaks (above 5,000 metres in elevation) by Incas. Human sacrifice was performed in these isolated locales as part of a ceremony. The amazing preservation of the victims' bodies, as well as many of the grave objects discovered, in the extremely cold and dry high-altitude Andean environment, gives exceptional bio anthropological evidence

The Maiden's hair produced a record of what she ate and drank during the last two years of her life after biochemical examination. This research appears to back up historical descriptions of a few chosen youngsters participating in a year of religious ceremonies marked in their hair by changes in food, coca, and alcohol consumption leading to their sacrifice. The authors point out that coca and wine could create altered states linked with the sacred in Inca religious philosophy. The chemicals, on the other hand, are likely to have served a more practical purpose, confusing and sedating the young victims on the high mountainside in order to make them more receptive of their own tragic destiny.

"In terms of mummies known around the world, she has to be the best preserved of all of the mummies that I'm aware of," said University of Bradford forensic and archaeological expert Andrew Wilson. "She almost seems as if she's just slept off."
Wilson added, "I suppose that's what makes this all the more chilling." "This isn't a dried-up mummy or a collection of bones. This is a human being, a child. And the information we've gathered through our research is pointing to some really profound messages regarding her final months and years."

The mummies are now housed in Salta, Argentina's Museo de Arqueologa de Alta Montaa (MAAM).


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