500-Year-Old Mummified Body Of An Incan Girl Could Possibly Help Cure Modern-Day Diseases

500-Year-Old Mummified Body Of An Incan Girl Could Possibly Help Cure Modern-Day Diseases

The mummy, called ‘La Doncella’ or ‘The Maiden,’ displayed at the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM) in Salta, Argentina is that of a teenage girl who died more than 500 years ago in a ritual sacrifice in the Andes Mountains. The girl and two other children were left on a mountaintop to succumb to the cold as offerings to the gods.

According to the archaeologists who found the mummified remains in Argentina in 1999, “The Maiden” was only 15 years old when she died. Her frozen, entombed body was found on an Argentinian volcano. Due to the frigid weather conditions, the body is perfectly preserved even though it’s 500 years old.

Apparently, the little girl was chosen by the Incas as a sacrifice to their gods, which involved her being carried to the highest mountaintops, where she was fed cocoa lumps. She was also given an intoxicating drink at the burial site. The Inca priests would either kill or leave them intoxicated and freeze to death.

Recently, scientists discovered that The Maiden also had a bacterial infection similar to tuberculosis when she died. They believe that the discovery of this bacteria could potentially help fight new or reemerging illnesses in this modern age. The 500-year-old mummy is giving up some secrets, revealing that the teenager suffered from a bacterial lung infection at the time of her death.

The Maiden and another young Inca mummy, both of whom are believed to have died at the same time, were being studied by researchers who used tissue proteins rather than DNA.

Angelique Corthals, a forensic anthropologist at the City University of New York, and her colleagues took lip swabs from the two Andean Inca mummies, as well as samples from the boy’s bloodied cloak. Corthals explained, “What I really wanted to do originally was see where the blood I found on the mummies’ clothing and lips came from. But we found a whole lot more than we were expecting.”

According to previous studies, the children were fed a regular peasant diet of potatoes and other common vegetables. Then a year before their sacrifice they were given “elite” foods like maize and dried llama meat to fatten them up. The frigid temperatures, as well as other circumstances, naturally maintained their fatty bodies after they were sacrificed.

Along with the two mummies discovered by archaeologists, they also discovered another one, a 6-year-old girl’s remains. After seeing how this mummy had apparently been struck by lightning, it was decided that no samples would be taken from it because the results could be altered after what happened to the body.

They discovered that The Maiden’s protein profile resembles that of a patient with a chronic respiratory infection. Additionally, X-rays taken of the Maiden’s lungs after she was discovered showed evidence of a lung infection.

Through their studies, it was determined by DNA research that the Maiden did indeed have bacteria of the species Mycobacterium, which are known to cause illnesses of the respiratory tract and tuberculosis (TB) in humans and animals alike. Although the bacterium has been found to belong to the cluster of TB-causing bacteria, the precise species has not yet been identified, most likely because its DNA has yet to be sequenced.

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