Momia Juanita or Mummy Juanita, who has also been called the ‘Lady of Ampato’, and the ‘Inca Ice Maiden,' are names given to the mummy of a 15th century Incan girl who was discovered in Peru in 1995. It is believed she was a victim of an important Incan sacrificial rite known as Capacocha, which has been translated as ‘royal obligation’. About a year before her death, she was elevated, her diet indicated she began eating as did the elites of her society. She was between 12 and 15 years old when she was taken to the place of sacrifice, sedated with coca leaves and chicha, an alcoholic drink, then struck with a blunt object which fractured her skull, and caused a massive fatal hemorrhage.
Her body was covered with fine clothing and was accompanied by accessories such as clay statues, shells, and gold objects She was dressed in the 'finest garments' of that time along with a cap made from the feathers of the red Macaw and also wore a colorful woolen shawl. Experts estimated the sacrifice between AD 1450 and 1480.
She was found in 1995 in the mount Ampato, Andes Range, South Peru by anthropologist Johan Reinhard and his Peruvian climbing partner Miguel Zarate.
The Inca Ice Maiden is one of the the best preserved mummies ever recovered. This body was naturally mummified, preserved in ice for over 500 years.
- The body was so well preserved that the food which she ate before sacrifice was inside her stomach.
- The skin, hair, blood and even internal organs have been frozen due to the climatic conditions of the mountain. Thus, preserving with only 5 hours of decayed body.
- Unlike Egyptian mummies, whose internal organs are removed and preserved in separate jars besides them, mummy Juanita was naturally preserved allowing the flesh and tissues to be examined by experts.
- Not to be confused with ‘La Doncella’ (the Maiden), one of the mummified ‘Children of Llullaillaco’ in Salta province, Argentina.
The mummy is now housed in the Museum of the Universidad Católica de Santa María of Arequipa, Peru, encased in an insulated glass box at a constant temperature to ensure preservation. The interior is kept between -19.2 °C and -19.5 °C.