Polish scientist helps reconstruct face of 500-year-old mummified teenage girl sacrificed in ritual in the Andes
A Polish scientist has reconstructed the face of a 500-year-old mummified teenage girl who was sacrificed during a ritual in the Andes.
A team of Peruvian scientists including Dagmara Socha, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Warsaw’s Centre for Andean Studies, teamed up with Oscar Nilsson, a Swedish sculptor specializing in facial reconstruction of ancient humans.
Taking around 400 hours to construct, the 3D model of “Juanita’s” face, showing how she may have looked in the final moments of her life before being killed as a human sacrifice to Inca gods, was presented during a ceremony at the Andean Sanctuaries Museum of the Catholic University of Santa Maria in Arequipa, southern Peru, on Tuesday.
Socha said that to assure success in the representation they had to obtain a replica of the skull before getting body scans and DNA studies.
She said: “Juanita was a teenager who was well nourished and in good health at the time of her death.”
According to anthropological studies, Juanita was sacrificed between A.D. 1440 and 1450.
Tests show that the girl had been drugged and forced to kneel.
The studies also debunked the belief that she was a child, as she died when she was between 13 and 15 years old and not 11 as it was previously thought.
At the time of her death, she was 1.40 meters (55 inches) tall and weighed 35 kilos (77 pounds).
Juanita, also known as the Lady of Ampato, is considered one of the most well-preserved mummies in the Andes.
It is believed she belonged to a noble Cusco family and was killed by a blunt trauma to the head during Capacocha, a ritual sacrifice common to the Incan Empire.
Discovered almost entirely frozen by US anthropologist Johan Reinhard and mountaineer Miguel Zarate in 1995, Juanita was chosen as one of the world’s top ten discoveries by Time magazine because of the preservation of her internal organs, hair, blood, skin, and contents of her stomach.
Reinhard, who has uncovered more than 14 bodies in the Andes, said scientists have been investigating aspects of Juanita’s life, including her diets and the objects she was found with.
He added: “These findings have helped us better understand her life and the Inca culture, now we can see what she really looked like, which makes her even more alive.
”I never thought I'd know what her face looked like when she was alive!”