Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes

( 8 )

Overview

The erupting volcano of Sabancaya spewed out clouds of ash over a mile into the sky, blanketing even its higher neighbor Ampato. After three years the weight of melting snow finally caused a section of Ampato's 20,700' high summit ridge to collapse. As it swept into the crater below, the mix of ice and rock carried with it a cloth-wrapped bundle. Smashing against a boulder, the outer cloth of the bundle was torn open and objects were strewn over the icy landscape. But the most important part of the bundle ...
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Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes

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Overview

The erupting volcano of Sabancaya spewed out clouds of ash over a mile into the sky, blanketing even its higher neighbor Ampato. After three years the weight of melting snow finally caused a section of Ampato's 20,700' high summit ridge to collapse. As it swept into the crater below, the mix of ice and rock carried with it a cloth-wrapped bundle. Smashing against a boulder, the outer cloth of the bundle was torn open and objects were strewn over the icy landscape. But the most important part of the bundle remained intact-the frozen body of an Inca child. Since Johan Reinhard found the mummy in 1995, news of its discovery has reached more than a billion people. It has been the subject of TV documentaries in several languages, and front-page newspaper stories (e.g. NY Times), major stories in magazines (e.g. Newsweek and Time). But most importantly it was one of the best-preserved mummies ever found and the only body of an Inca female. It provides the proverbial time capsule, a human frozen in time, whose study has yielded results ranging from the best preserved DNA of its age to the first complete clothing of an Inca noble woman. During later expeditions Reinhard led to the mountain, three more Inca human sacrifices and several rare gold and silver statures-clothed in finely woven miniature textiles-and other artifacts added to the discovery's significance. The original mummy, now known by the name of the "Ice Maiden" was chosen by Time magazine as one of the world ten most important scientific discoveries for 1995. Dr. Reinhard's work at Ampato and on subsequent expeditions to other Andean peaks resulted in his finding ten Inca human sacrifices and the richest collection of Inca artifacts ever made. The physical hazards of high-altitude archaeology, the insight his discoveries yield on the lives and culture of the Inca, the intrigues and strange, even cult-like, activities surrounding the mummies once they were displayed around the world, provide a human dimension to his science that Dr. Reinhard recounts in his book. The excavations and the excellent preservation of the mummies and artifacts found with them have meant that scientists from an array of fields-biologists, botanists, chemists, pathologists, ornithologists, nutritionists, and historians-continue to be fascinated by them.Rarely is it possible to have such a combination of adventure and discovery together with important "firsts" in the field of science. Rare still is to have them be about a topic that cuts across age and cultural boundaries, causing headlines around the world. The discoveries have opened up completely new areas of research about the past and have impacted dramatically on the countries where they occurred¿and not least of all on the lives of the people who made them.
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Editorial Reviews

Neil Baldwin
The Ice Maiden is especially to be appreciated in the context of contemporary popular descriptions of indigenous peoples and their myths and archetypes because it portrays a culture very different from ours with excitement and energy while still maintaining this kind of balanced, informed respect.
— The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792268383
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 702,029
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Johan Reinhard, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, has made more than 100 ascents over 17,000 feet and discovered more than 40 Incan ritual sites in the course of two decades as a high-altitude archaeologist in the Andes. He is associated with several research institutes, universities, and museums in both North and South America, has written a children's book and numerous scholarly books and articles, and won a Rolex Award for Enterprise in the field of exploration. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2005

    Ice Maiden book review

    Johan Reinhard has succeeded in telling a story in such a way that it will appeal to a wide audience ¿ youngsters as well as oldsters, lay persons as well as technical experts. Dr. Reinhard is an excellent communicator and his book contains all the elements of an engrossing novel ¿ mysterious and chilling religious practices, daunting physical obstacles, political intrigue ¿ yet it proves that real life can be more interesting than fiction. The book is very readable and is difficult to put down once started. Dr. Reinhard has clearly done his homework in terms of researching the lone-gone Inca civilization and how it relates to the present situation in Peru and how the Ice Maiden and other mummies form a bridge between past and present. The generous use of illustrations adds tremendously to the enjoyment and understanding of one of the most important archeological finds of the 20th century.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2005

    Fascinating

    I remember when all the buzz was generated about this find, and there was a special exhibit in Washington, so it is a pleasure to read the inside story, both of the finds, and of the life and death of the young girl of the title. The deductions that lead Reinhard to examinine certain Andean mountaintops are remarkable, as is the realization that archaeology requires an interesting array of job skills: languages, mountaineering, burro-wrangling, research, and academic infighting, for starters. A good adventure read for armchair enthusiasts of archaeology/anthropology -- and there is detailed new information here as well for students and academics. The photos, index, and bibliography are invaluable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012

    Okay

    Okay

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