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The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andesby Johan Reinhard
Synopses & Reviews
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, whosestudy 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.
Johan Reinhard's discovery of the 500-year-old frozen body of an Inca girl made international headlines in 1995, reaching more than a billion people worldwide. One of the best-preserved mummies ever found, it was a stunning and significant time capsule, the spectacular climax to an Andean quest that yielded no fewer than ten ancient human sacrifices as well as the richest collection of Inca artifacts in archaeological history.
Here is the paperback edition of his first-person account, which The Washington Post called "incredible…compelling and often astonishing" and The Wall Street Journal described as "… part adventure story, part detective story, and part memoir—an engaging look at a rarefied world." It's a riveting combination of mountaineering adventure, archaeological triumph, academic intrigue, and scientific breakthrough which has produced important results ranging from the best-preserved DNA of its age to the first complete set of an Inca noblewoman's clothing.
At once a vivid personal story, a treasure trove of new insights on the lives and culture of the Inca, and a fascinating glimpse of cutting-edge research in fields as varied as biology, botany, pathology, ornithology and history, The Ice Maiden is as spellbinding and unforgettable as the long-dead but still vital young woman at its heart.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This book takes armchair adventurers and archaeological enthusiasts not only to the excavation, but back through Peruvian history as it revisits the 1995 discovery of the mummy of a 14-year-old who died or was sacrificed some 530 years ago.
About the Author
For more than 20 years, Dr. Johan Reinhard has conducted anthropological field research in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Equador. His investigations have led him to present new theories to explain the mystery of prehispanic ceremonial sites on mountain summits as high as 22,109 feet, and ancient ceremonial centers including Machu Picchu. While making more than 100 ascents over 17,000 feet, Dr. Reinhard has discovered more than 40 high-altitude ritual sites.
In addition to being a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, Reinhard is a senior research fellow at the Mountain Institute, West Virginia; a research associate of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History; and an honorary professor at Catholic University in Arequipa, Peru. He is the author of a children's book and numerous scholarly books and articles. In 1987 Dr. Reinhard was a recipient of the Rolex Award for Enterprise in the field of exploration. He is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records forthe Inca Ice Maiden discovery. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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