Favorite recent and insightful quote I have read recently:

Favorite quote I have recently read: "The word temple comes from the Latin templum, which signifies an extended open space that has been marked out for the observation of the sky. In what manner is such a space marked out? According to Dr. Hugh Nibley, the word templum, "designates a building specifically designed for interpreting signs in the heavens--a sort of observatory where one gets one's bearings on the universe." The root "tem-" in Greek and Latin denotes a "cutting" or intersection of two lines at right angles, the point where the "cardo" and "decumanus" cross, hence where the four regions come together." Matthew Brown - "The Gate of Heaven"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Face of an Incan Girl

With only 2 days more in Peru we are looking forward to the rest of the summer with family and friends in Utah. In some ways it has been a long twenty two months missing kids and grandkids. In other ways the weeks have gone by quickly. There are still more topics I would like to write about, updates from Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley where we were earlier this week. We have been traveling again with friends from Utah as well as making our farewells.
With Austin and Raul at Machu Picchu this week. It was another beautiful
day in one of the most beautiful places in the world. 
Last week we visited Arequipa for the first time and enjoyed several days with Brother and Sister Ramos. They too were missionaries in the Lima Temple with us. She is an outstanding cook and we enjoyed so much the wonderful flavors of Arequipa she prepared. The region is known for its excellent food in addition to the incredible scenery of a nearby (presently dormant) volcano and other mountain peaks surrounding the city.
In the cocina of the Ramos. We enjoyed rocoto rellenos, chupes de 
camerones, chicharones, pastel de papas and a few more dishes. 
El Misti towers in the background of Arequipa. We were allowed to climb
to the roof of the main cathedral and take this photo near the bell tower. El 
Misti is almost 20,000 feet in elevation. Its last eruption was in 1985
Arequipa is known as the Ciudad de Blanco or the "white city" because of the beautiful white volcanic stone so many of the buildings are constructed from. The Main Cathedral of Arequipa is constructed of this stone known as "sillar." The craftsmanship is superb and represents the best from the colonial period.
The Main Cathedral of Arequipa. Construction started 
when the city was founded in1540 and has been ongoing 
as earthquakes as recent as 2001 destroyed portions of the 
bell towers and damaged the building. 
Without a doubt the highlight of trip, in terms of Peruvian history, was visiting the Catholic University's Museum. Commonly it is known as "Juanita's Museum." It stirred my interest in high altitude archaeology. Upon downloading the discoverer Johan Reinhard's account, I had the Kindle version of his book read in a few days. He and his climbing teams have discovered, throughout the Andes, the remains of some 20 Incan sacrificial victims. Most of them were young girls, but also a few boys. For the first time intact human remains have been recovered for preservation and scientific study. None of these remains of Inca children were artificially preserved. Burial in high altitude remote frozen landscapes preserved them naturally. Several sites his team had visited saw evidence of grave robbers and even the use of dynamite to open these frozen burials to find the gold and silver statues accompanying the victims.
Known as the "Momia Juanita" to Peruvians, she was discovered on Mt.
Ampato in 1995. She was between 11 and 15 years of age when sacrificed.
Time Magazine named her as one of the ten most important scientific 
discoveries in the world.
Preliminary DNA studies most closely linked her to an indian tribe in Panama but subsequent additional data suggests she was from the Andes.
National Geographic Explorer in residence Dr. Johan 
Reinhard on the summit of Mt. Llullaillaco in the 
Argentine Andes.  From this location the very best and
most intact mummies were recovered. 
The most remarkable find of Dr. Reinhard were mummies found subsequently to the Ice Maiden Juanita, across the Chilean border in the Argentine Andes. These mummies had their internal organs intact with blood still in the heart and lungs. Skin and facial features were undamaged and for the first time we can know what an Inca girl looked like from 500 years ago. The Inca sacrificed their unblemished children to the gods of the mountains not to propitiate their anger but to enter the realm of the gods and live with them carrying messages. It was deemed to be a great honor for the victim and her family. These sacrifices, according to the Spanish chroniclers, were generally associated with specific events in the life of the Incan emperor. Human sacrifice seems to be something practiced world wide in antiquity and not limited to the Inca or their predecessors. In terms of comparison to the Maya and the Aztec the Inca were far more restrained with their human sacrifice. Llamas and alpacas being the more common sacrifice. The meat afterword consumed in the day's festivities, not unlike temple activities in ancient Israel.
The ice maiden of Argentine Andes, known as "La Doncella" appears to be
only asleep.  She is the best preserved of any mummified remains recovered
anywhere in the world. 
The bodies of two other children were found near the summit of Mt. Llullaillaco in addition to La Doncella in 1999 by Dr. Reinhard and his assistants.  Because of her elaborate clothing and headdress, not shown, she was probably an "aclla" or Sun Virgin. She was chosen, as was Juanita, as a toddler to live with other girls and women who could become royal wives, priestesses, and sacrifice victims. In order to assure compliance the sacrifice victims were drugged with fermented corn beer and coca. Juanita suffered massive blunt force trauma to the forehead. The cause of death of La Doncella remains somewhat a mystery, though results published only this week suggest she had a major pulmonary infection. Coupled with the shock or trauma associated the event and with the elevation of more than 22,000 feet it may have spelled her doom. Having been in Cusco for several days at 1l,000 feet I am uncertain how anyone navigates at twice that level. She also had several white hairs in her neatly braided hair. At her young age scientists speculate they were the result of stress in her life. Incan families willingly though gave their children to the emperor as it was esteemed to be a great honor to the family. Her DNA was so well preserved it was the equivalent of testing that of a living person. Studies confirm she was from somewhere near the Colca Canyon not far from where Juanita was found on Mt. Ampoto in Arequipa region.
The double jammed doorway leads from a very special
location in Machu Picchu, likely it was used by the Sun 
Virgins or Aclla. They would learn the skills of making
textiles, cooking, weaving clothing for the emperor, and
serving in the temples. 
Hair samples studied from La Doncella show the presence of cocaine and its heavy use among the select children of the Inca suggesting it was an important part of their rituals, certainly for those involved in human sacrifice. The levels of cocaine in her system were three times as high as any of 350 other samples taken from Andean mummies. Artificial mummification was practiced widely throughout the reign of the Inca and their predecessors. Mummies were worshiped and cared for as though they were still present and active members of the Incan society.
Dr. Reinhard and the Ice Maiden Juanita atop Mt. Ampato
The high altitude archaeological work performed by Dr. Reinhard and his associates has been invaluable and ranks, rightfully so, among the greatest discoveries of the modern era. We know what an  Incan girl looked like from 500 years ago and now a good deal more about her life and her culture. For the indigenous peoples of the Andes these discoveries are important, much more so than for a few grave robbers to cash in on the artifact market. As museums have been constructed and visitors pay to see these cultural exhibits everyone benefits. Local artisans now exhibit and sell their crafts where once they were ignored being too far from the beaten tourist trail. Cultural exhibitions including dance, fairs, and ritual ceremonies have been organized and held for promoting a rebirth of ancient Andean culture. The unique information gathered from these mummies serves to educate the world about a most remarkable ancient civilization. To summarize Dr. Reinhard, "In the imaginations of children, mummies are second only to dinosaurs and their educational potential appears to be unlimited. A mummy is a magnet and can be used as a teaching tool on many subjects, including archaeology, geography, human biology, conservation, and the environment. These are true time capsules that allow, a view into the past that cannot be be obtained by any other means."  My personal thanks to Dr. Reinhard and others like him who have worked so tirelessly to preserve the past. Through his efforts a new branch of high altitude archaeology has emerged and knowledge of the Incan past is now much better understood. Largely, his work and understanding of the role and importance of mountains and mountain deities explains the function and place of Machu Picchu to the Inca. His web site has numerous PDF's of articles he and his associates have published. I am also interested in his study and interpretation of the famous lines of Nazca. It is on the schedule of things to read, but it won't be here in Peru.

1 comment:

  1. CP has a book about mummies that we read pretty often. I'll have to show him the pictures tomorrow- he'll be very interested.