The South American continent is home to one of the greatest indigenous civilizations in human history. The Incas of Peru gave the modern world one of the new seven wonders: Machu Picchu; and the way they lived, their age-old customs, and the monuments they built in their time were all subjects of curiosity to the common man. And as archaeologists and researchers continue to dig deeper into the ancient civilization around 1200 – 1500, mysteries are revealed that surprise us even more.
In 1992, Miguel Zarate, a Peruvian climber, while exploring Mount Ampato (an inactive volcano, 6,228 meters high, south of Peru) discovered strange pieces of wood. He immediately decided that this could be an interesting archaeological site. In September 1995, Zarate returned to Mount Ampato with American archaeologist Reinhard. At this time, the top of Mount Ampato was affected by a nearby volcanic eruption, so the snow and ice gradually melted, exposing secrets that had been buried for hundreds of years.
Besides an ancient statue and a few small items, the group could not find any other clues. Zarate and Reinhard decided to change the archaeological site. They searched along the mountainside and soon discovered an Inca mummy. This mummy is that of a girl about 12 to 14 years old, sacrificed in a ritual and named Juania by Reinhard. The expedition took a lot of time to get this mummy out of Ampato mountain.
In 1999, Reinhard continued to discover three more Inca mummies during an expedition to the top of Mount Llullaillaco (a stratovolcano, no longer active on the border of Argentina and Chile).
Due to the freezing conditions at the top of the mountain, the mummies are very well preserved. Not only the body but also the internal organs are preserved almost intact. Her hair is still neat and her outfit is neat with fancy fur hats. The three mummies are named La Doncella (or The Maiden), El Nino (or The Boy) and La Nina (or The Lightning Girl).
After analyzing hair samples from the mummies, archaeologists said that all three children were constantly given coca leaves and alcohol. Researchers also conducted X-Rays and CT Scans on The Maiden mummies to learn information about their diet during their last days of life.
According to Inca religious customs, children who stood out in appearance and health were carefully selected and given special upbringing. Then, a few weeks or even years ago, those children were taken to a volcano hundreds of kilometers away from their living location, where people were performing rituals to the Sun God Inti.
As the scheduled ritual date approaches, children between the ages of 6 and 16 are dressed in their most beautiful costumes, exquisite jewelry, and hundreds of offerings of gold, silver, and other objects. other small products. The ritual was performed with the purpose of limiting natural disasters and appeasing the gods. According to Inca belief, being chosen for sacrifice is a great honor. After death, children will be with their ancestors and protect the people from the afterlife. During the last few months before the ritual, the children were fed a diet rich in fiber and protein, including vegetables, lamb, and corn cobs. These dishes help the selected children climb to the top of the high mountain without exhaustion. And alcohol in the form of corn beer will make them strong and not lose faith in what they are doing.
Interestingly, the researchers also found evidence that The Maiden received more special treatment than other children. For example, she used more premium foods and was provided with the highest amount of coca leaves and alcohol. While El Nino and La Nina only ate the above foods for 9 months, The Maiden was fed about more than 21 months before dying. Additionally, when found by archaeologists, The Maiden wore a fur hat on her head and her hair was intricately braided. “The Maiden is probably a young girl chosen from the most elite people, who must live separately from the lives of those around her and receive special care from the priestesses” – Andrew Wilson, group leader Research and archeology from the University of Bradford in England, shared.
Researchers also believe that some children will be killed by force if they resist being chosen. The evidence is the blood stains on the clothes and the state of the body tied tightly with rope of the El Nino mummy.
In a 2012 study, it was discovered that The Maiden was infected with a virus that causes a rare lung disorder. Research and analysis are still being conducted on the remaining two mummies.