| Mummies of Qilakitsoq |
|Sex||Male and Female|
|Site||Greenland, Uummannaq Fjord|
|Location||Greenland, Uummannaq Fjord|
The small Inuit baby was found along with a two-year-old boy, and six women of various ages, who were buried in two separate graves protected by a rock that overhung a shallow cave.
The bodies were naturally mummified by the sub-zero temperatures and dry, dehydrating winds, providing a remarkable opportunity to learn about the Greenland Inuit of half a millennium ago – they are the oldest preserved remains ever to be found there.
An initial theory was that they all, apart from the baby, drowned together in a umiaq accident, which, being a woman’s boat, would have answered the question of why there were no men found in the graves. However, studies of the remains seem to rule out this possibility and, apart from the baby, the two-year-old boy, and the elder lady with the tumour, researchers could find no evidence relating to how the others died. Different theories such as freezing, food poisoning, or epidemic are all unsupported by any evidence, and scientists have been unable to determine if they died at the same time or not.
The bodies were found stacked on top of each other with layers of animal skin in between. They were in two graves, a metre apart. The first grave contained three women, a two-year-old boy, and the six-month-old baby, while the second grave contained three women. DNA studies indicated that there were two sets of related mummies and one mummy unrelated to either of the groups, who is thought to have perhaps married into the family. All of the mummies were well-nourished in the period before death on a diet that consisted of 75% seafood and 25% from plants and animals, such as reindeer. Accompanying the eight bodies were seventy-eight items of clothing, most made out of seal skin. The two-year-old boy was found to have Down’s Syndrome and may have been left out to die of exposure because of his condition. This was a common practice among the Inuit of the time because the society could not afford to support people who they felt would have no ability to contribute to obtaining food, making clothing, or building shelter.