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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 439428, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/439428
Review Article

Frozen Mummies from Andean Mountaintop Shrines: Bioarchaeology and Ethnohistory of Inca Human Sacrifice

Instituto de Investigaciones de Alta Montaña, Universidad Católica de Salta, Campus Castañares, 4400 Salta, Argentina

Received 22 December 2014; Accepted 5 April 2015

Academic Editor: Andreas G. Nerlich

Copyright © 2015 Maria Constanza Ceruti. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study will focus on frozen mummies of sacrificial victims from mounts Llullaillaco (6739 m), Quehuar (6130 m), El Toro (6160 m), and the Aconcagua massif. These finds provide bioarchaeological data from mountaintop sites that has been recovered in scientifically controlled excavations in the northwest of Argentina, which was once part of the southern province of the Inca Empire. Numerous interdisciplinary studies have been conducted on the Llullaillaco mummies, including radiological evaluations by conventional X-rays and CT scans, which provided information about condition and pathology of the bones and internal organ, as well as dental studies oriented to the estimation of the ages of the three children at the time of death. Ancient DNA studies and hair analysis were also performed in cooperation with the George Mason University, the University of Bradford, and the Laboratory of Biological Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. Ethnohistorical sources reveal interesting aspects related to the commemorative, expiatory, propitiatory, and dedicatory aspects of human sacrifice performed under Inca rule. The selection of the victims along with the procedures followed during the performance of the capacocha ceremony will be discussed, based on the bioarchaeological evidences from frozen mummies and the accounts recorded by the Spanish chroniclers.