Modern forensics provides scientists a glimpse into a South American civilization by analyzing an ancient mummy through high-tech analysis. The mummy is of an Incan woman who lived between A.D 1451 and 1642. The human relic has been part of a German collection for over 100 years, when in the 1890s Princess Therese of Bavaria made a trip to South America and acquired two mummies. As of recent, studies have been conducted on the Andean specimen to determine her history and lifestyle.
When the two mummies arrived in Germany, one vanished and the other made its way to the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich. Much of the documentation pertaining to the ancient mummy has been destroyed due to the Second World War and multiple relocations. Andreas Nerlich, a paleopathologist at Munich University has made in-depth examinations on the mummy to ascertain her lifestyle, diet and the cause of her death. With thorough research by Nerlich and his research team, there have been some interesting facts revealed about the Inca woman.
By observing the outward appearance of the Incan mummy, there seems nothing out of the ordinary. At the time of her death she was approximately 20 to 25 years old and had hairbands made from alpaca or llama hair which is attributed to Inca culture. Another feature of the mummy that is evident of Inca origin was her skull deformation, which was common practice among the Incan people to flattened the head.
With biological and chemical analysis, the German team were able to acknowledge her nutritional intake and the area she resided during her life. Isotopic tests proved that she lived in modern-day Peru or Chile by the coastline and consumed a diet of mostly seafood and corn. When Nerlich and his colleagues put the ancient mummy through a computer tomography (CT) scanner they made a startling discovery, her face was completely pulverized and her frontal bones were smashed. It is believed she was murdered by being struck in the face several times by a blunt object.
The condition of her health could render clues to why she endured such a violent death. Further analysis showed the Inca woman suffered from a parasitic malady, Chagas disease, which causes the heart and intestinal walls to thicken, making it difficult for a person to breath and digest food. There is a high probability that she was so ill and close to death that she was chosen to be a victim of a ritual killing. Whether she chose to be sacrificed or was forced into a ritual killing remains unanswered. The Inca woman remains could help find a cure for Chagas disease which today is still a widespread health issue in that region. After her murder, she was interred in a shallow grave in the parched Atacama desert where the arid climate depleted all the moisture from her corpse rendering her to be the intriguing mummified specimen she is today. The Archaeological Collection of the State of Bavaria will have her on exhibit until August.
By Isriya Kendrick