Arequipa Ice Maiden

13 01 2009

Alexa has been taking Spanish classes here in Arequipa. Yesterday we went to visit the Inca Ice Maiden/Ice mummy exhibit. Although somewhat morbid, the museum has frozen Inca mummies who were buried with ceremonial pottery and clothing, all of which is well preserved.

They had these little golden lamas, very nice (and well preserved) wool shawls, straw sandals and pottery for drinking chicha (beer made from corn) that were found in the burial pits on top of massive volcanoes. They climbed these huge mountains (20,000+ ft. elevation) using only straw and leather sandals, fueled by chicha and coca leaves (they found traces in their frozen stomachs), to bury these sacrificial items and people on the tops of the mountains, where they believed the gods live. Although Juanita is the most famous and best preserved of the Inca ice mummies, both young boys and young girls were found at various mountain top sites, and they were considered honorary sacrifices to appease the mountain gods so that they would bring better weather. These young people would become demi-gods themselves to live forever with their gods on the mountain tops, in consolation for climbing mountains in sandals.

Afterwards we dined on alpaca steaks and chicha morada, which were tasty and a little lighter than beef. We hope to get some more photos on the older posts soon, and then we’re looking into leaving soon to go to Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca with an elevation of about 12,400 feet above sea level.




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