Juanita -The Inca Ice Maiden
Biographical Information
Name(s) Juanita
Age 11-15 years old
Sex Female
Status Young Inca girl from noble Cuzco family
Height Unknown
Culture Inca Empire
Date(s) 1450-1480 A.D.
Site Mount Ampato, Southern Peru
Current Location
Location Saint Maria's Museum of Andean Sanctuaries, Arequipa, Peru
Catalog # Unknown


Commonly referred to as Momia Juanita in Spanish, Juanita was discovered by anthropologist Juan Reinhard and his partner Miguel Zarate when climbing Mount Ampato in the Andes mountain range of Southern Peru in 1995. Upon their ascend, Reinhard and Zarate came upon across a frozen bundle in a crater, and with further investigation Reinhard and Zarate found it to be a mummy. Juanita is believed to be a female approximately 11-15 years old who was sacrificed to the Inca gods between 1450-1480 A.D. for a clean water supply, and the absence of avalanches. Upon further analysis, Juanita is shown to have died of a brain hemorrhage as a result of blunt trauma to the head leading to a fractured right eye socket and a 2-inch fracture to the skull (common to being hit with a baseball bat). Furthermore, judging from the fine details from her garments, Juanita is believed to have been part of a noble Cuzco (Inca capital) family.


Researchers discovered that Juanita was not mummified in a classical manner as many of the mummies we have come to know today. In fact, Juanita was naturally mummified as a result of the climate of Mount Ampato. This natural mummification process through the frigid temperatures and minimal moisture atmosphere allowed Juanita to be preserved from the inside out for over 500 years. Thus leaving her organs, skin, tissue, blood, stomach contents, and clothes in pristine condition. Therefore, Juanita is commonly said to be the best-preserved mummy.


Studies carried out by the Institute for Genomic Research found Juanita's closest kin to the Ngobe People of Panama and the Andes. Additional research of Juanita's Hypervariable region 2 DNA (HV2) indicated that she also shared linkages to ancient groups from Taiwan and Korea -this finding further reinforced the theory that hypothesized that Paleo-Indians had Pacific linkages. 


Juanita shows no signs of poor health, in fact, her well-preserved body indicates she had optimal health -most likely as a result of her status.

Additional Information

The discovery of Juanita was a great deal of excitement for the scientific community due to the nature of Juanita's preservation. The nature and climate of Juanita's resting place provided ideal conditions for Juanita's remains to be completely frozen up until her discovery. As a result, Juanita's organs, stomach contents, tissue, blood, skin, and garments were exemplarily preserved. This allowed researchers to conclude that Juanita's last meal was 6-8 hours before her death and consisted of vegetables.

Upon further examination, Juanita was confirmed to be wearing a brightly colored traditional Aksu (burial garment) in addition to a cap adorned with macaw feathers and a silver-clasped alpaca shawl. Moreover, this gave researchers an opportunity to study the culture during the Sapa Inca Pachacuti reign.

Additionally, the location and high altitude of Juanita's body suggest that she was the purest and most innocent of all the mummies found within the Cuzco region. Due to the hard labor, abundance of resources, and individuals (priests, villagers, etc.) required in a sacrificial ritual, it was often difficult to hold rituals in such difficultly accessible locations. However, of all the mummies discovered in the neighboring regions of Cuzco, Juanita is said to be found at the highest altitude and with the most amount items as offerings to the Inca Gods (ie. statues of food, bowls, pins, and silver and gold figurines).

External Links


Mummy Juanita. (2017, February 14). Retrieved from

Pro, B. M. (n.d.). Inca ice maiden (Juanita) -well preserved mummy ever. Retrieved from     

Top 10 famous mummified bodies. (2104, July 27). Retrieved from


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