Llullaillaco Boy was the youngest of three Inca mummies found near the Volcan Llullaillaco in Argentina. He is believed to have died between A.D. 1430-1520. Found in 1999, the well preserved body is said to be only 7 years old. Llullaillaco boy was part of the Inca tribe, and is assumed to be a human sacrifice in the traditional capacocha rite.
The mummy was found in a well-preserved condition, and is said to be one of the most best preserved mummies found. This natural state of preservation is due to the extreme cold conditions at the mountain's high altitude of 22100 ft. The body was found in a tomb facing north east, covered in vomit and diarrhea. The body was tied and bound and a bloodied cloak was on him. The likely cause of death was suffocation, though the body shows signs of crushed ribs and a dislocated pelvis. A bag was found next to him containing cut hair that was used for DNA analysis along with the blood from the cloak.
Due to the well-preserved nature of the Inca mummies, researchers were able to perform a variety of biochemical studies. The hair is remarkably preserved, and an analysis provided a record of his dietary habits leading up to his death. The dietary information helps researchers speculate an explanation of his final moments. Traces of alcohol and coca indicate involvement in sacrificial ceremonies that led to his death. Researchers were able to use DNA analysis to determine changes in Llullaillaco boy's diet that correlate with the time they believed he left his old peasant life to become a chosen child for the sacrificial ceremonies.
Upon analysis of his blood and hair, the boy did not seem to have any signs of disease prior to his death.
Llullaillaco boy and the other two Inca mummies are currently on display at the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology in Argentina.
- Ceruti, M. C. (2004). Human bodies as objects of dedication at Inca mountain shrines (north-western Argentina). World Archaeology, 36(1), 103-122.
- Ceruti, M. C. (2015). Frozen mummies from Andean mountaintop shrines: bioarchaeology and ethnohistory of Inca human sacrifice. BioMed research international, 2015.
- Wilson, A. S., Taylor, T., Ceruti, M. C., Chavez, J. A., Reinhard, J., Grimes, V., ... & Worobey, M. (2007). Stable isotope and DNA evidence for ritual sequences in Inca child sacrifice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(42), 16456-16461.
- By Joseph Castro - http://www.flickr.com/photos/97533784@N06/9047335430/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26671372