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Questions about Mesoamerica

What has the Inca Maiden's mummy revealed about its society?
   Beth, 12, Web Post

Dr. dig responds:

The Ice Maiden, also known as the "Ampato Maiden," or "Juanita," was a young Inca girl discovered in 1995 near the top of a mountain in the high Andes. She had been killed as an offering to the mountain god more than 500 years earlier and, because of the high altitude, her body had been deep frozen and preserved. She was fully clothed, wrapped in cloth, and had with her a collection of grave goods: bowls, pins, and figurines made of gold, silver, and shell.

This find, and finds of other sacrificial victims, can tell us a great deal about Inca society. Their clothing and grave goods tell us about technology-we can learn about textiles, metallurgy, and shell work. Their bodies tell us about the health and diseases of the Inca peoples, while the location of their graves confirms the impressive ability of the Incas to reach the highest mountain peaks without modern mountaineering aids. Finally, their unnatural deaths help us understand the religious beliefs of people who believed that human sacrifice was necessary to please the gods.


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