Skip to Main Content

ISU anthropologists working on documenting life of 500-year-old mummy with researchers across country

March 7, 2019

POCATELLO – Researchers from Idaho State University, the Idaho Museum of Natural History, Michigan State University, the University of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania State University are working to document and return the remains of a 500-year-old Incan mummy to Bolivia.

ISU anthropologists working on documenting life of 500-year-old mummy with researchers across country
Photo credit: Michigan State University

 The mummy is the remains of a young girl, nicknamed ?usta, meaning “princess” in the Quechua language. It was donated to Michigan State University in 1890 by the U.S. Consul to Chile. Through the 1970s, ?usta had been on prominent display at the MSU Museum until Lovis and other curators recommended that she be removed from exhibition and curated away from public view.

?usta and her burial offerings had originally been placed in a stone tomb called a chullpa near LaPaz, Bolivia. She is presumed to be a capacocha, a ritual child sacrifice, buried among the peaks of the sacred Andes mountains. Most scholars agree that capacocha were meant to appease the gods of the mountains and assure protection and abundant rain for crops to support the Inca people. Though there is contention as to whether chullpa burials are those of sacrificial victims or elites interred in prominent monuments, capacocha were often the children of nobility chosen, because of their purity and innocence, as honored tribute. These children are believed to have traveled across considerable distances and altitudinal changes during their final months of life on the journey to the locations of their sacrifice.

Capacocha children are found with elaborate burial goods including silver and gold figurines, feathers, textiles and jewelry among other high-status artifacts. The means of the sacrifice seems to vary among the capacocha found, but often they would slip into slumber from chewing on coca leaves. This ritual was considered a necessary and important part of the Inca worldview.

In 2016, William Lovis, professor and curator emeritus at MSU, began the process of repatriation, and initiated coordination of collaborative interdisciplinary and interinstitutional documentation of the mummy using minimally invasive and cutting-edge technologies.

Gabriel Wrobel, MSU, is using non-invasive methods to interpret her age-at-death and documenting any existing trauma. Amy Commendador, Manager of the Earl H. Swanson Archaeological Repository at the Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University, has been using isotopic analyses from hair to reconstruct the diet and migration of ?usta during her final months of life.

Anthropologists Samantha Blatt, ISU, and Amy Michael, UNH, are analyzing the microscopic structures in the enamel and root of a tooth to reconstruct her health. Dental histology, the study of microscopic tissues, will reveal if ?usta experienced any acute health stress events in the earliest years of her life.

Along with Blatt and Michael, John Dudgeon, from the ISU Department of Anthropology and Center for Archaeology, Materials and Applied Spectroscopy (CAMAS), will capture the chemical markers of stress mapped within microscopic stress lines in the tooth.

The dental data, coupled with the hair data, will allow for a better rendering of the overall health experience and diet leading up to the sacrifice event. This will help to reconstruct the sociopolitical identity and geographic origins of ?usta. It is hoped that this collaborative study of the mummy will give researchers a clearer view of the experiences of capacocha and their role in the Inca world.

 

 

 

  • 车祸后理赔遭拒 保险公司输官司 2019-05-15
  • 女排总决赛名单将出炉:边缘二传逆袭上位 曾春蕾恐落选 2019-05-15
  • 【理上网来·喜迎十九大】Cheng Li:过去五年中国在多领域取得巨大成效 2019-05-14
  • "伊朗梅西"联手"荷甲金靴" 波斯铁骑能否圆梦小组出线 2019-05-14
  • 胡杏儿晒儿子软萌照 睡眼惺忪眼神迷人可爱十足 2019-05-08
  • ABB机器人重庆应用中心挂牌 再添智造生力军  2019-05-06
  • 新华保险荆州中支助力首届荆楚文化旅游节开幕 2019-05-01
  • 光明日报评论员坚持社会主义核心价值体系 2019-05-01
  • 十九大代表、海口市公安局琼山分局飞鹰大队大队长冯晖:把十九大精神讲清楚、讲明白 2019-04-26
  • 牢记嘱托 让重庆各项工作迈上新台阶重庆各界学习贯彻习近平总书记参加重庆代表团审议时的重要讲话精神 2019-04-26
  • 无论是否想怀孕 这串数字女性要知道 2019-04-23
  • 自愿确定退休时间,并不等于公务员干到死。美国的公务员到期换工作很普遍。我国也有公务员任期规定。不干公务员,可以干别的工作,不退休。退休与公务员终身制不是一回事。 2019-04-23
  • 交通运输业、除去货运、客运也都是人满为患吃大锅饭的状态。裁员也会是惊人的。所以中国劳动力不是太少、而是都不仅在位置上。国有企事业单位冗员严重。数量惊人。 2019-04-18
  • 全国高考开展网上评卷 看老师怎么给高考卷打分 2019-04-17
  • 男子高速酒驾飞出立交桥 车身粉碎人无碍 2019-04-07
  • 423| 734| 216| 926| 504| 444| 770| 140| 932| 415|