500-year-old Mummy of Incan girl returns to Bolivia
The Mummy of Incan princess
Known as Nusta, a Quechua word for "Princess,'' the mummy amazes many because of its excellent state of preservation: Its black braids seem recently combed and its hands still cling to small feathers.
Experts say the mummy originally came from a region in the Andean highlands near La Paz during the last years of the Inca civilization. Radiocarbon tests also have revealed that it dates to the second half of the 15th century, confirming the likelihood that its tomb burial preceded the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the conquest of the Inca by the Spanish.
The mummy was returned more than two weeks ago with the assistance of the U.S. embassy in La Paz, and a new study is expected to be carried out by November by Bolivian academics and foreign experts. Until then, accompanying funerary objects will be exhibited to the public during a celebration that pays homage to the dead on Nov. 2.
"It's the first time that a body has been recovered, a mummy from the Inca period,'' she said.
Still, many mysteries remain unsolved.
The girl, who is thought to have been part of an ethnic Aymara group known as the Pacajes, had originally been placed in a stone tomb along with sandals, a small clay jar, pouches, feathers and several types of plants including maize and coca _ perhaps because some Andean civilizations believed that offerings helped the dead transition into the next life.
Radiocarbon tests also have revealed that it’s as old as the second half of the 15th century, confirming the likelihood that its tomb burial predated the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the conquest of the Inca by the Spanish.
8 -year old at the time of death
Nusta is believed to have been about 8 years old when she died and was buried in a dress made with threads from llama or alpaca, animals which were domesticated more than 4,000 years ago in the Andes and still roam the highlands of Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
(In pic: an anthropology student analyzes bird feathers that were held by the 500-year-old Incan girl mummy now stored at the National Museum of Anthropology in La Paz, Bolivia.)
Opening doors to new study
"We can say that she was an important member of her ethnic group,'' Trigo said, referring to Incan and Aymara traditions of building adobe or stone tombs known as chullpa for elite members of their communities.
For now, the remains are being preserved in a refrigerated chamber at the National Archaeology Museum in downtown La Paz.