The 'perfect' mummified remains of two girls and a
boy were found on top of a volcano in the Andes. The children were
probably sacrificed by Incas some time around AD 1500, according to
a 1999 publication by researchers.
The remains were discovered at a height of 6,700
metres (22,000 feet) on Mount Llullaillaco, a mountain in north-western
Argentina, near the border with Chile. Dr Reinhard, the lead researcher
behind the discovery, said the bodies may have been frozen since they
had been left on the mountain by Incas.
The Inca empire once covered around four thousand
kilometres (2,500 miles), from present day Colombia to central Chile.
Flourishing from the thirteenth century, it collapsed in 1532-1533
with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors.
Even though they were buried under about 1.5 metres
(five feet) of rock and earth, the internal organs of the child mummies
looked perfect on a CT scan - as if they had died only recently. How
these children died was yet to be established at the time of the
original publication of the findings.
Their burial platform carried other sacrifices,
apparently to Inca gods. These included thirty-five gold, silver, and
shell statues, pottery containing food, and articles of clothing
including moccasins. All were in excellent condition.
The undamaged female had a beautiful, yellow,
geometrically-designed cover laid over her outer mantle, reported Dr
Reinhard, a senior research fellow at the Mountain Institute in West
Virginia. US, Argentine and Peruvian scientists worked together on the
expedition, which was organised by National Geographic.
Dr Reinhard, who has found several other mummies,
said his team had battled snow and high winds to reach the site. At
one point they had to lower one of their workers into the pit by his
ankles so he could pull the mummy out with his hands.
While they still lived, the three children were plied with
regular doses of drugs and alcohol to render them compliant,
especially the eldest, shown here (click on image to view full