Juanita, the girl who died in a sacrifice and became one of the most famous mummies in history

The Juanita mummy is also known as the “Lady of Ampato” and the “Inca Ice Maiden”.

The Juanita mummy is one of the best-known mummies in the world of archaeology. It is the body of a 15th century Inca girl discovered in Peru in 1995.

It is also known as the “Lady of Ampato” and the “Inca Ice Maiden”, because it was found on Mount Ampato, an inactive volcano in the Andes, and because its body was preserved by the freezing temperatures of that mountain.

It was on September 8, 1995 when the archaeologist Johan Reinhard and his assistant Miguel Zárate discovered the bundle that wrapped Juanita when they were in the area of ​​Mount Ampato.

During a second expedition to the mountain that same year, the frozen mummies of two other minor individuals were discovered in a lower area of ​​Mount Ampato.

One of the most outstanding details in the discovery of the Juanita mummy is the very pure state of conservation of the body, which was wrapped in a bundle.

It contained various artifacts, such as numerous miniature clay statues, shells, gold objects, along with food, coca leaves and chicha, an alcoholic beverage distilled from corn, which are suspected to be offerings to the gods.

The strongest theory about why and how Juanita died is that she was the victim of an Inca sacrifice known as Capacocha, which means “royal obligation.” Other scientific analyzes reveal that Juanita was only between 12 and 15 years old when she died.

The two individuals discovered a month later were also children, and their deaths are also suspected to have been caused by the same sacrifice that took Juanita’s life.

The coca and chicha found in the bundle that wrapped Juanita were used to sedate the sacrificed, a very common practice in ancient Peru. Once the victim was intoxicated, the priests made the sacrifice.

In the case of the mummy Juanita, a blow to the head with a club caused massive bleeding, and ultimately death, according to radiology studies.

The capacocha ritual was important among the Incas. It consisted of sacrificing the healthiest individuals to appease the gods and thus ensure a good harvest, or avoid some natural disaster. It has also been suggested that the ritual could be related to the cult of Mount Ampato.

Another important detail to note in the Juanita mummy is that it was selected to die a year before the capacocha ritual was carried out.

This was revealed thanks to studies that were done on her hair, which helped experts to discover changes in the girl’s diet.

Juanita ate a standard diet, which included potatoes and vegetables. This changed about a year before her sacrifice, when she began to consume animal proteins and corn, which were the foods of the elites.

Today the remains of the Juanita mummy are exhibited at the Museo Santuarios Andinos de Arequipa, in a special box that maintains a careful temperature and humidity inside, to guarantee the conservation of these remains for the future.