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Weird History

Preserved For 500 Years, The Mummies Of Llullaillaco Show What Incan Child Sacrifices Entailed

In 1999, three 500-year-old mummies were discovered near the peak of the Llullaillaco Volcano on the Chile-Argentina border. They were children. The oldest, known as the Ice Maiden, was only 13 years old; experts estimated the other two, a boy and a girl, were four or five years old. 

The Llullaillaco mummies represent an exciting find for the scientific community, shedding light on the ancient practice of Incan sacrifice. It is likely all three died in a ritual called Capacocha, in which they were sacrificed to the Sun God. Their bodies were shockingly well-preserved; the freezing, thin air in the high mountains turned them into frozen mummies naturally. They looked like they simply fell asleep.

The three mummies - the Maiden, the Llullaillaco Boy, and the Lightning Girl (earning this moniker since she appears lightning-struck) - are all on display in Salta, Argentina. They continue providing researchers with clues to the fascinating and tragic lives they led in the ancient Incan Empire.

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