Peruvian Mummy Taken to Children’s Hospital for Revealing X-rays

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A 2,000-year-old mummy kept at Corpus Christi Museum of Natural History in Texas, has been transferred to Driscoll Children's Hospital for X-rays. The museum is currently working with the hospital to confirm the age, gender and the cause of death of the mummy.

Ancient Peruvian Mummy Examined by Doctors in a Hospital

According to records from the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, the mummy is a young girl from the Inca Empire of Peru, dating back to about 2,000 years ago. An x-ray machine has been used in order to reveal the secrets of the ancient mummy, "She was not my average patient!" Suzi Beckwith, Diagnostic X-ray Coordinator at Driscoll Children's Hospital told Archaeology News Network .

2,000-year-old mummy taken to Driscoll Children's Hospital for X-rays

2,000-year-old mummy taken to Driscoll Children's Hospital for X-rays (Youtube Screenshot)

For more than six decades, the mummy has been hosted at the Corpus Christi Museum of Natural History and Science in Texas. However, the goal of this process is to return the mummy to the region that she is originally from and that’s why they are now trying to learn as much as they can about her.  The museum staff suggest that the mummy is almost 2,000 years old and comes from the Inca Empire of Peru. They have also estimated that the girl was around six to eight years old when she was mummified. “Because of the size of the mummy, I thought it was a baby. But looking at the X-rays, you see her legs are actually tucked in. So she's not a baby. She’s a little girl,” Beckwith told Archaeology News Network , in this way verifying the museum’s previous estimations.

The Long History of Peruvian Mummies

Of course, this is not the first time scientists are examining a Peruvian mummy in order to discover more information about ancient Peruvian culture and society. As reported in a previous Ancient Origins article , researchers examined four 8,000 to 10,000-year-old mummies from Peru's Tres Ventanas (‘Three Windows’) cave in order to understand more about these people, who cultivated potatoes and corn and domesticated animals around the same time as farmers in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

A child mummy with funerary items, from the Tres Ventanas cave in Peru

A child mummy with funerary items, from the Tres Ventanas cave in Peru (Photo by The Anatomical Record journal)

Although the Tres Ventanas cave and the four mummies were explored and then excavated by Frederic Engel in 1966–67, and the project is named in his honor as the “Engel Study Group”, the importance of both the physical remains and the context in which they were found came to light only recently. More specifically, the authors of the 2015 study , led by L. Samuel Wann of the Paleocardiology Founation of Columbia St. Mary's Healthcare in the U.S. city of Milwaukee, wrote:

‘The Tres Ventanas mummies of Peru are thought to be among the oldest mummies in existence… A preliminary assessment is made of the potential of these mummies for use in future research on mummified remains. Although the Tres Ventanas cave and the four mummies were explored and then excavated by Frederic Engel in 1966-'67 … the importance of both the physical remains and the context in which they were found has only come to light in the last few years. Most important is the paleopathological examination of these remains since these mummies are found in a high altitude area of Peru where adaptation to the limited partial pressure of oxygen is a key component in broadening our understanding of human diversity in past populations.’

The Tres Ventanas mummies are currently at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Biodiversidad Agricultura y Alimentaciòn in Lima.

X-Rays of the Mummy Could Confirm a lot of Information

Back to 2017, experts suggest that X-rays of the mummy could confirm with certainty the gender, age, and even cause of death of the girl. “We're looking for things that can help us give information to anthropologists in Peru, and then hopefully confirm the cultural group that she belongs to,” Jillian Becquet, Collections Manager at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, told Archaeology News Network .

Driscoll Children’s Hospital X-ray of the mummy confirms age, gender and even cause of death

Driscoll Children’s Hospital X-ray of the mummy confirms age, gender and even cause of death (Corpus Christi Museum of Natural History and Science)

What Becquet knows so far about the mummy from available records is that the mummy was originally on exhibit in New York City before coming to the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History back in 1957. It was one of the museum's first artifacts, but back in the 1980's the mummy was taken off display and has been sitting in storage ever since. "This person needs to be where her family buried her," Becquet tells Archaeology News Network . And continues, "Whatever group was around her chose to do this very caring thing, to wrap her purposefully and bury her. Somebody along the way disrespected that, and so we want that to be restored."

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