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The Mummy of Aconcagua

It is the largest archaeological finding in Mendoza. We tell you how, unintentionally, a group of Andinists found a mummy in the heights of Aconcagua.

History
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Mount Aconcagua is the summit of America. It is the highest point on the continent and the second one behind the Himalayanpeaks. As such, it is a mountain visited by thousands of Andinistas every year. So, often, more than one returns with some particular anecdote or experience. However, none was as important as that of a group of young people in the 1980s, who came with the novelty of having found the body of a child.

The find

Everything happened during the summer of 1985, that year, the Andean Club Mendoza (CAM) was 50 years old and, as part of the commemorative activities, planned numerous expeditions to Aconcagua by four routes.. One of these was the little frequented southeastern edge, where the brothers Fernando and Juan Carlos Pierobon and Franco and Alberto Pizzolon traveled. This last member observed something that caught his attention and said to his companions: “There's grass!”, to which they replied: “How? We're over 5,000 feet high!”... This dialogue, extracted from one of the books of Dr. Juan Schobinger, describes the precise moment of a very important archaeological finding that would become one of the milestones of the high mountainarchaeology .

Alberto Pizzolon approached to see the “grass” and realized that it was yellow and black feathers that were part of a head headdress of an Inca child offered on the mountain five hundred years ago, information that became known after the the studies. It was the mummy of the Aconcagua.

Do not touch

One of the most important things that occurred during this expedition was, without doubt, the excellent criteria that the expeditionaries had in view of the archaeological discovery. Many would have chosen to dig and “see” what was in the place, almost like an instinct to play as an explorer, archaeologist, discoverer of hidden treasures and so many fantasies that arise in the face of the intrigue of“discovering” what is Buried. However, they chose to return without altering anything and see what solution could be given to the evidence that erosive processes had partially unearthed in the most frequented mountain of our country.

Looking for a specialist

In Mendoza, together with the president of the CAM, they began to think and find out who was understood in these issues, so they reached Dr. Juan Schobinger. However, he was starting his vacation on the Atlantic Coast.But the urgency of the case and the passion of the archaeologist made him give up the warm weather of the coast to organize an expedition to the high mountains . Fifteen days after the discovery occurred, Schobinger along with a team of volunteers, made up of G. Cabrera, Juan Carlos Pierobon, Alberto Pizzolon, J. Ferrari, Eduardo Guercio, Víctor Durán, Germán Bustos Herrera and Silvia Centeleghe,left in a van from Mendoza to Inca Bridge.They entered through Horcones and set up a camp at 3,800 meters, then another at 4,400 meters, set up a base camp at 4,600 meters and finally, a high camp at 5,200 meters, where they found the cemetery with pircas, minerals and other offerings.

Laboratory studies carried out in both the mummy of the Aconcagua and the objects that were part of the trousseau were innovative and complete, which generated valuable unprecedented information that contributed to the knowledge of the Inca culture and the children's offering ceremony, known as like “capacocha.”

The child

The child's body appeared well preserved, although deformed by strong lateral compression. He was dressed in two “uncu” (tunic or Andean T-shirt, devoid of sleeves) of wool, he was footwear with slips made of wool and hair with the sole of vegetable fiber, and on the neck he kept a collar formed by beads of multicolored stones. Above there were a number of other textile pieces (mantles, girdles, loincloths, laces, etc.). Some of the linens were made of cotton and had geometric decoration and birds stylized in brocade technique, which corresponds to a tradition of the central coast of Peru and which had never been found in other high places.

The mummy of Aconcagua was found in the fetal position, as it is currently present. It is conserved under freezing temperatures in a Scientific Technological Center (CCT).

Publication Date: 18/07/2020

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