Stunning brain scans of 500-year-old mummies

The Llullaillaco mummies are the spectacularly preserved bodies of three sacrificial children from a 500-year-old Inca civilisation found at more than 6,500m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. I’ve just found a study that brain scanned the mummies and the results are nothing short of stunning.

I’ve tried to link each scan to the picture of the relevant mummy (although I have to say, the online photos of the mummies are a bit inconsistently labelled so I apologise for any mismatching) and you can see how remarkably well-preserved they are both inside and out.

The mummies are of a 15-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy and a 6 year-old girl that are thought to have been left as part of a ritual Inca sacrifice. From the article:

The scientific excavation was carried out at an altitude of 6,739 m above sea level on the summit of Mount Llullaillaco in the northwestern Argentinean Andes at an average temperature of ‚Äì15¬∞C. These children had been sacrificed 500 years ago in times of the Inca Empire to appease the mountain deities and to ensure the emperor’s well-being. In addition, the mummies were buried with more than 100 objects, including textiles, gold and silver statues, pottery, and feathered headdresses.

The children had been buried in three pit tombs built by the Incas by enlarging natural niches in the bedrock at the summit shrine of Mount Llullaillaco, which is considered to be the highest archaeological site in the world. The mummies were individually buried 1.7 m deep with their associated offerings. The funerary sites were covered with a mixture of soil and stones, which was also used to fill in the platform that was later built to cover the burials.

According to a National Geographic news story, the older girl was found to have chewed coca leaves and drunk corn liquor, the latter possibly to put her asleep.

Link to study on brain scans of Llullaillaco mummies.
Link to NatGeo story on the mummy of the older girl.

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