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El Plomo Boy
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Biographical Information
Name(s) El Plomo Boy, Boy of El Plomo, El Plomo Mummy, La Momia del Cerro El Plomo
Age 8
Sex Male
Status High Status
Height Unspecified
Source
Culture Inca
Date(s) Approx. 500 years ago
Site Cerro El Plomo
Current Location
Location National Museum of Natural History, Santiago Chile
Catalog # Unknown
El Plomo boy is an Incan mummy discovered in 1954 by a group of climbers at the summit of Cerro El Plomo in Chile. The mummy is approximately 500 years old, the boy was approximately 5-8 at the time of death. The cold climate and minimal rain fall atop the mountain allowed the mummy to remain remarkably well preserved.

The mummy was well dressed in Incan textiles and jewelry, and found with a gold llama, a silver doll, and pouches containing his baby teeth and nail clippings. In addition, his hair was braided into 200 intricate strands. El Plomo boy was the first mummy discovered in a series that would later reveal the Incan practice of sacrificing children to the gods that they believed to control water.

Studies

The distinctive red and yellow bands painted across the child's face are composed of iron ochre and arsenic sulfides mixed with animal fats, respectively.
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The mummy was also surrounded with grave goods consisting of nail clippings, animal organs, deciduous teeth and hair. His clothes included a tunic made from black llama wool with fringes of dyed red llama wool along the edges, leather moccasins with red trimmings, a grey alpaca fur shawl that was also trimmed with red and plaited hair that was held with a headband tied together at the chin along with a woolen headdress. A silver bracelet on the left forearm and an H-shaped pectoral accessory that hung from his neck, two signs of high social class in the Inca culture.

Pathology

There were no lesions, growth arrests or injuries found on the boy's body and there were no infections on the superficial tissues of the mummy's skin. During the examination there was indications that the boy had Trichuris trichiura (human whipworm) and found nits of Pediculus humanis capitis in his hair. Further studies showed that he had the papilloma virus and angiokeratoma, and had type O blood type. Upon discovery, weighed 35 kilos.

Additional

The Andean mountains were a key part of the Incan kingdom, which stretched from Ecuador to southern Chile. The Inca believed the summit of a mountain served as a ladder to heaven, making these sites important sacred spaces. Several mountains,including Cerro El Plomo, Sara Sara, and Llullaillaco, were the site of an Incan ritual known as Capa Cocha.  Other mummies found on these peaks include La Doncella, Sarita, Juanita, the Aconcagua Boy, and El Niño.


El Plomo Boy appeared to have been from the far north of the Incan empire


References

Bos, C. (2014). El Plomo mummy: Story of a child mummy. Retrieved from http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/El-Plomo-Mummy-Story-of-a-Child-Mummy

Clark, L. (1998). Ice mummies of the Inca. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/ice-mummies-inca.html

Haines, T., (Producer). (1997). Ice mummies: Frozen in heaven [Motion picture]. United Kingdom: BBC.

Lane, K. (2011). Inca. In T. Insoll (Ed.), The oxford handbook of the archeology of ritual and religion (pp. 571-584). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Reinhard, J., & Constanza, C. (2010). Inca rituals and sacred mountains. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.

Horne, P. D., & Kawasaki, S. Q. (1984). The Prince of El Plomo: a paleo-pathological study. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 60(9), 925–931.

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