Saturday, March 1, 2014

Misidentified mummy

A 500-year-old mummy housed in the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection is revealing some more of her secrets. Although no written records about her exist at the museum and she does not even have an accession number, she is believed to have been brought to Germany by a Bavarian princess c. 1898. For many years, however, it was assumed she was a European bog body. But the princess had recently been on an expedition to South America and researchers have now confirmed her origin. The material used to make the rope which tied her braids (IMAGE ABOVE) originated in South America, and her skull formation was typical of the Inca people. Stable isotope analysis of her bones and hair indicates that she had a diet rich in fish, which suggests that she lived near the Peruvian or Northern Chilean coastline. Blunt force trauma to the center of her face shows that she was – like a bog body – ritually killed. At 20, she was older than most sacrificial victims, but DNA analysis reveals yet another detail. "Present-day techniques offer such a wealth of information that we can reconstruct various aspects of past lives, diseases and death," notes study co-author paleopathologist Andreas Nerlich of Munich University. The researchers found that she suffered from a parasitic infection called Chagas disease, which would soon have taken her life if her killers hadn't.

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