Warning: Mummies are fascinating, but they are real-life dead people, so if you find images of dehydrated human remains disturbing come back on a lighter day. Or check out this post about one of America’s darling murderesses:
For the non-squeemish, let us wander on-wards into the craggy heights of the frozen lands where mummies can be found.
|Click here to read more about Juanita|
Let’s start in the frozen wasteland of Mt. Amato, 20,700 ft above sea level. Two men stumbled upon a bundle inside of a crater on their climb up the mountain. When they peeked inside they discovered the frozen form of a girl and a bunch of other tributes to the Inca gods, including statues and food. The girl, now called Juanita, was completely frozen. Which meant that her clothing, skin and organs were not all shriveled up or gouged out like mummies found elsewhere in the world. So many frozen squishy bits holding clues about our Inca ancestors. Because of this we know that her last meal was vegetables and that she was suffering from a lung infection and despite that aliment she was in generally good health. The fine quality of the fabrics she was wrapped in led scientists to believe she may have been royalty.She was sacrificed anyway though, and what ended her short life was blunt trauma to the head. I wonder if she was just really annoying… Sorry, too soon?
4) The Ice Maiden
|Click on for more Ice Maiden|
The Ice Maiden, or a glimpse into the history of tattooing. Once upon a time, around 5th century B.C.E., this scytho-siberian woman lived on the eurasian steppes near the Russian/China border. Her frozen form was found in an underground burial chamber in 1993. The plateau where she was found is called “the second layer of heaven” by the locals because it’s “one step above ordinary people and events.” How her body was perseved for so long is pretty fascinating. Her burial mound was like a buried log cabin , with dirt and rocks piled on the top. A while after the ice maiden had been buried a second grave was built on top of hers – populated by a male skeleton and three horses. This particular grave was robbed later on and this allowed water to work it’s way all the way down to her little hollow. The water filled up her tomb and froze creating a ice cube time capsule containing the fair maiden, her horses, and her gifts of food and goods.
This 20-30 year old maiden may have been a priestess in her community. What I find the most intriguing about this priestess is her tattoos. There is a mark of a deer tattoo on one of her shoulders, and another on her wrist and thumb. How cool is that?
3) The Icicle Bison
|10,000 year old Steppe Bison|
In 2011 the Yukagir tribe unearthed the remains of a 10,000 year old steppe bison. It was so incredibly well preserved that’s it internal organs were almost completely intact. This is unique because normally, if you find an animal of this size in the frozen aisle it’s only half of it or less because of scavengers and how long it takes or the permafrost to fully cover it. This particular beauty died when it was only about 4 years old, and based on the lack of fat on the poor thing, it probably died of starvation. For the first time ever, a steppe bison brain was intact, which of course lead to much excitement in the scientific world. The original article on the find you can read on Live Science if you’re interested.
2) Oetzi the Iceman
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From Otztal – the Italian side of the Alps – the body of a man was found and his wounds suggested he’d been having a pretty rough day. He’d been shot with a arrow, half of it was still buried in his shoulder and by the time he made it to the top of the schnalstal glacier he succumbed to the cold. His body was then covered in ice and stayed hidden there until a couple of surprised hikers discovered him in 1991. Luckily for us he was so well preserved that scientists were able to find cell contents of pollen in his intestines – which means that his last meal had been hop hornbeam pollen. And his copper-age axe and blade are the only two intact specimens of the tools ever found from his time period.
1) 500 year old frozen Inca Girl
For my top pick it’s the most incredibly well preserved Inca mummy I’ve ever seen. It is entirely mind boggling that this girl died 500 years ago. The color is still in her fabrics and her face looks like she fell asleep just a moment ago.
So I’ll leave you with this video to marvel over until the next post. And make sure you don’t go sleeping in the mountains anytime soon.