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Friday, September 16, 2011

Arequipa la Cuidad

Today we wandered around the city of Arequipa. We went to the archeologic museum where we learned all about Juanita- a young girl the Incas sacrificed to the gods who was found 500 years later on top of a mountain frozen in ice. And remarkably well preserved. They flew her to Johns Hopkins to learn that her final cause of death had been blunt trauma to the head- done with a ceremonial stick someone lugged up a 20,000 foot mountain. They buried her body along with sacrificial artifacts at the top of the mountain. An earthquake caused her body to shift downwards about 100 meters, and that's where the researchers found her.
Her journey started months earlier, starting out from Cusco and traveling through the country summitting various peaks before the final one here in Arequipa. They did all this in leather shoes lined with wool. No cramp-ons for them. After climbing to 20,000 feet covered only in blankets, they mercifully give the children a really strong alcoholic drink (chicha) before their deaths. They covered the graves with stones, which is how researchers find them. Three other children have been found on the mountain outside Arequipa, 14 children have been found total in various mountains. The children are offered once a year to appease the gods, more frequently if there are natural disasters.
The children are raised for this honor. They live in a special house in the capital and receive only the best food and clothes. As they grow, they select the most beautiful of the children to be considered for sacrifice. They were very egalitarian about it- even royal children were enrolled.

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