People today will do anything for younger-looking skin, but they might think twice after reading this.
After the discovery of a 500-year-old mummy in Argentina, scientists are baffled by not only how young she looks, but by how she brutally perished.
Modern society has its issues, but the saddening tale of this girl shows that we’ve come a long way from the cruel animals we once were.
10. She Was Chosen As A Sacrifice
At 13, this girl was chosen by the Incan Empire to take part in a ritual. Known as “Maiden” to the archaeologists who discovered her, she was selected as the centerpiece of a sacrifice thought to appease the gods. In addition, two other children were selected as her attendants: Llullaillaco Boy and Lightning Girl, both 4 to 5 years old.
While Lightning Girl’s name is superhero-esque, how she got it is almost as unbelievable as the reason behind this ancient ritual.
9. From Rags To Riches
After being selected, Maiden was taken from her impoverished parents to live among the Incan elite. Scientists were able to deduce this from her change of diet. Based on her hair samples, scientists found that her diet shifted from that of a peasant (i.e. mainly potatoes) to that of an elite (i.e. maize and dried llama meat).
“Given the surprising change in their diets, and the symbolic cutting of their hair, it appears that various events were staged in which the status of the children was raised,” said Andrew Wilson, a lead archaeologist from Bradford University.
8. Led Into The Mountains
Along with the two other selected children, Maiden was led into the mountains by the ritual leaders. Near the border of Argentina and Chile, they were taken up to the summit of Mount Llullaillaco – a 22,100 foot active volcano.
Yet, despite the volcanic activity, heat wasn’t what killed Maiden…
7. Frozen To Death
While her cause of death is technically unknown, it is suspected that she died because of the mountain’s extreme climate. According to Wilson, Maiden most likely succumbed to the environment’s freezing temperatures during her three months on Llullaillaco.
Maiden’s death was painful, but what they found in her system shows that she didn’t feel a thing.
6. Put In Final Resting Pose By Someone Else
Evidence suggests that Maiden was positioned in her final resting place by an unknown party. Wilson believes that, either directly before or after her death, the Incan elite who lead Maiden up into the mountains moved her body for ritualistic purposes.
Maiden was found cross-legged with her body slightly hunched over. She also had braided hair and several artifacts placed on her knees.
5. She Died “Willingly”…
Maiden’s lack of defecation upon death and the coca quid chewing lump in her mouth point to an odd conclusion: she died willingly. The absence of feces indicates there was no struggle and the lump offers a chilling explanation for this: she was heavily sedated.
“It looks to us as though the children were led up to the summit shrine in the culmination of a year-long rite, drugged and then left to succumb to exposure,” said Timothy Taylor, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford.
Maiden died “peacefully.” This can’t be said for the others.
4. But The Five Year Old With Her Was Suffocated…
Dying in the cold while on heavy medication seems bad, but not when compared to this. While Maiden died without a struggle, the Llullaillaco Boy put up a fight against his captor. His body was covered in his own blood and vomit – clear signs of bodily harm. More gruesomely, he was bound in a cloth so tight that his ribs and pelvis were crushed.
According to Taylor, this type of death was common in Incan mountain communities.
But what happened to Lightning Girl was anything by common.
3. …And The Other Was Struck By Lightning
Aptly named for this reason, Lightning Girl was struck by lightning while on top of Mount Llullaillaco. Her body, surprisingly, is relatively intact – only her face and shoulder are charred from the strike.
This wasn’t a moment of magic happening because of the ritual. Lightning Girl was long dead when she was struck, but to say the chances of this are slim would be an overstatement.
2. They Were Sacrificed To Provoke Fear
The deaths of these children were cruel, unusual, and unjustified. They were not sacrificed out of some sense of punishment, but because Incan leaders used them as tools for social control. Evidence suggests that, by producing a climate of fear, Incan rulers could better control their subjects.
“[Maiden’s] death was seen as an honor,” Wilson says of how Incan society viewed this ritual.
Disturbingly, parents were not allowed the right to cry if their child was selected for the sacrifice. The child was not allowed either, not that they even could, because…
1. The Sacrificed Children Consumed Tons Of Cocaine And Alcohol
Up to a year before their deaths, Maiden, Llullaillaco Boy, and Lightning Girl were beyond sedated by a wide assortment of drugs. Hair samples show that Maiden took the most, primarily consuming alcohol and coca leaves (the leaf used to make cocaine).
Some scientists speculate that this large dosage of drugs led to Maiden’s incredible preservation. But regardless of the cause, achieving eternal youth clearly isn’t worth the cost.