Mummy Murder Solved: Incan Woman's Head Smashed: Page 2


She had the characteristic skull deformation associated with Incan head flattening and skull bone structures found in South American populations but not European ones.

Scientific testing revealed that the woman lived sometime between A.D. 1451 and 1642. The mummy was also wearing hair bands made from alpaca or llama hair — another indication of her South American origin.

Different foods contain different proportions of carbon and nitrogen isotopes (atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons), so the ratio of these two isotopes in the mummy's hair revealed her origins.

Why were they built, and why did humans give up on them?

NEWS: Mummy with Mouthful of Cavities Discovered

Any theories about why the woman died violently are highly speculative, Nerlich said. Combined with a DNA analysis of parasites taken from rectal tissue, the CT scan results suggest that from infancy, the woman suffered from Chagas disease, which is caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. As a result, she probably had trouble with breathing and digestion, Nerlich said.

Based on those isotopes, the woman likely lived near the coastline in what is now Peru or Chile, and ate a diet high in seafood and maize, a New World crop, Nerlich said. She was between 20 and 25 years old when she died.

Ritual murder?

One possibility is that she was killed in a ritual murder, just as other Incan mummies were.

"She might have been chosen as a victim for a ritual murder, because she was so ill and it might have been clear that she might have lived only for a relatively short period," Nerlich said.

The findings on the mummy, which will be on exhibit at the Archaeological Collection of the State of Bavaria in Munich until mid-August, were published today (Feb. 26) in the journal PLOS ONE.

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