Top: The remarkably preserved thirteen year old Inca child mummy dubbed the Llullaillco Maiden. Bottom: Axial radiograph showing the coca leaf between her teeth (highlighted in green). Both images © Johan Reinhard.
Archaeologists have found three Inca child mummies dating back to 500yrs on the top of the 22,000ft summit of the Mount Llullaillco volcano in Argentina. One of the mummies found is that of a thirteen year old girl, now dubbed as the ‘Llullaillaco Maiden’, the other two mummies are that of a boy and a girl aged around four years old. The mummy of Llullaillaco Maiden is remarkably preserved whereas the remains of the boy and the girl were struck by lightning and so are charred.
The mummies were found separately entombed within a shrine, and were originally discovered in 1993 by Dr Andrew Wilson and his team of archaeologists from Bradford University. But it’s the recent findings that have spurred them into the news. The team of archaeologists analysed strands of the three mummies’ hair and discovered that in their later years they were drugged with beer and cocaine. As the Llullaillco Maiden’s hair was so long, with a centimetre of hair growth estimated per month, it allowed for an analysis that compared the alcohol and cocaine consumption during her last 21 months of life. An axial radiograph also showed that a coca leaf was held between the Llullaillco Maiden’s teeth. It is thought that she was fed the coca to subdue her during the Inca rituals.