National Geographic : 1996 Jun
At this point the mummy is only partly unwrapped, yet Conklin has reconstructed exactly how the girl was clothed. He has also ascertained that her textiles are strikingly similar to those on the female statues buried with her. The statues may have represented goddesses, and this young wom an, who could have been deified through her sacrificial death, was dressed in a manner befitting her place in the spirit world. On one statue a miniature tex tile made of prized vicuia wool has a weave count as high as the finest machine-made clothing. Only about two dozen Inca stat ues with well-preserved textiles have ever been found, so the ones from Ampato add another dimension to our understanding of this facet of Inca culture. Taken as a whole, the Ampato discoveries promise many new insights about the Inca and their way of life. Our emphasis now is on building a climate-controlled research facility at Catholic University. We are also seeking funding for a battery of studies by physi cal anthropologists, pathologists, microbiologists, parasitologists, biochemists, gynecologists, met allurgists, Inca ceramic special ists, textile conservationists, botanists- even ornithologists to investigate the headdresses. The list continues to grow. One company recently asked me if we wanted to collaborate on an experiment to fertilize human eggs that might be recovered from the mummy. We passed on that, but what we aim to do includes skeletal reconstructions, DNA analysis, and research on diet, diseases, and mortality. In their early death, I cannot help but think, the Ampato maiden and the two other Inca sacrifices have given new life to the memory of their people-one of ancient history's greatest civilizations. 0 National GeographicEXPLORER airs "The Mummy Hunters" Sun day, June 23, at 9 p.m. ET on TBS.