Scientists reconstruct face of 500-year-old mummified girl sacrificed in ritual

Boffins have reconstructed the face of a mummified teenage girl sacrificed in a ritual in the Andes over 500 years ago.

An international team of scientists teamed up with Oscar Nilsson, a Swedish sculptor specialising in facial reconstruction of ancient humans, to craft the 3D model of 'Juanita’s' face before she became a human sacrifice to Inca gods.

The model, that took around 400 hours to construct, was the highlight of a ceremony at the Andean Sanctuaries Museum of the Catholic University of Santa Maria in Arequipa, southern Peru, last Tuesday (October 24).

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To create the model, the team used a replica of the skull before getting body scans and DNA studies.

Dagmara Socha, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Warsaw’s Centre for Andean Studies, was involved in the project. She said: “Juanita was a teenager who was well nourished and in good health at the time of her death.”

Juanita, who was between 13 and 15-years-old, was sacrificed between A.D. 1440 and 1450, according to anthropological studies. She was reportedly forced to kneel after being drugged.

It is believed she was killed by a blunt trauma to the head. Juanita, also known as the Lady of Ampato, was also believed to have been from a noble Cusco family.

At the time of her death, she was 1.40 meters (55 inches) tall and weighed 35 kilos (77 pounds).

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She was discovered almost entirely frozen by US anthropologist Johan Reinhard and mountaineer Miguel Zarate in 1995.

Reinhard said scientists have been investigating her diets and the objects she was found with, as well as other aspects of her life.

“These findings have helped us better understand her life and the Inca culture, now we can see what she really looked like, which makes her even more alive," he said.

”I never thought I'd know what her face looked like when she was alive!”

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