{{Template:Infobox humanmummy

|image = .jpg |name = The Maiden |age = 15 years old |sex = Female |culture = Inca |dates = Estimated to have been sacrificed 500 years ago |site = Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco |location = Border of Argentina and Chile |catalogue = }}</span>


The 'Madien' mummy, discovered in 1999, was originally buried on the summit of the Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco, 22,100 feet (6,739 meters) above sea level, after being sacrificed in a ceremonial ritual. She was found along with two other children sacrifices.


Her frozen body has been hailed as one of the best preserved Incan mummies ever found. Archaeologists who found her said there are downy hairs still visible on her arms, the perfectly intact skin on her face and the lice that must have been scurrying through her hair when she died and are still lodged there. The mummies were found with an extraordinary collection of elaborate gold, silver and shell statues, textiles, pots containing food and even an extravagant headdress made from the white feathers of an unidentified bird.But it was the state of the bodies, preserved not by embalming, like Egyptian mummies, but simply by the natural deep-freeze in which they were abandoned, that scientists found most remarkable.

Through CT scans, it showed that her internal organs appeared to be in perfect condition. The 'Maiden' still had blood in her heart, her brain was completely undamaged and when the blood vessels were thawed the blood that poured out of them was crimson, as it would be in a living person.


After examining the bodies and doing some research on the history of Incan culture, it is thought that the children were chosen for their beauty and sacrificed in a ceremony called a capacocha.The sacrifices were children because they were considered to be the most pure. They were not sacrificed to feed or appease the gods but, rather, "to enter the realm of the gods and live in paradise with them. It was considered a great honour, a transition to a better life from which they would be expected to remain in contact with the community through shamans (holy men)".

Past research found the boy and girl had been fattened up before sacrifice, being fed a typical peasant diet of potatoes and other common vegetables up until a year before their sacrifice, when evidence suggests they were given "elite" foods like maize and dried llama meat.


The researchers analyzed tissue proteins, rather than DNA, from the Maiden and another young Inca mummy who died at the same time. They discovered that the mummy was suffering from a bacterial lung infection at the time of her death.


Castro, J. (2012, July 25). 'Maiden' Inca Mummy Suffered Lung Infection Before Sacrifice. Retrieved from <>

Moore, V. (2007, September 8). Preserved Mummy of 500-year-old Inca 'Ice Maiden' wows visitors. Retrieved from <>

Waugh, R. (2012, July 26). Incan mummy frozen after human sacrifice still has infection in lungs after 500 years - giving new insight into diseases of the past. Retrieved from <>

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