Thursday, June 16, 2011

Photo of the Week: Juanita, the Inca Ice Maiden (Arequipa, Peru)

In 1995, two scientists stumbled upon a grisly find near the summit of a Peruvian mountain. A young teenage girl had been sacrificed to the Inca Gods some five hundred years ago. Buried by Inca priests and well preserved by the harsh icy conditions, Juanita has helped scientists discover details of this remarkably advanced civilisation.

Juanita, christened the Inca Ice Maiden (or la niƱa de los hielos), was clubbed to death with a savage single blow to her head. In excellent health and dressed elegantly in an alpaca shawl and fine clothing, Juanita was buried with a treasure trove of bowls, tools and small gold figurines (also on display in the museum).

Juanita now lives in a climate-controlled unit in the Andean Sanctuary Museum and continues to be examined. Through DNA, scientists are trying to discover current relatives.

Along with the stunning city of Machu Picchu, the secrets of the Inca people continue to be unveiled though I can only feel that only a snippet of the whole story is really yet known.

Note: National Geographic details much of the discovery and autopsy here.


Jennifer said...

Eesh, that's quite a frightening photo to just come upon! I guess that makes it a fitting "photo of the week."

Mark H said...

@jennifer: Kind of grisly but fascinating at the same time. I just tried to envisage her life and how she came to be selected. Was it an honour or a petrifying fear? How did her family feel?

Sherry Ott said...

That was a bit gruesome! Makes you really appreciate archeologists!

Heather on her travels said...

When I think of this girl it makes me think of my teenage daughter and I wonder what her family must have been going through

Mark H said...

@sherry: I love what archaeologists can discover today.

@heather: The thoughts of the parents is what most struck me. Would it be abject fear or great pride for having their daughter chosen for such an event. I shudder to think.

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