Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
London, England, United Kingdom
March 15, 2010
From journal Peru Part 2
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
February 3, 2010
While you should certainly visit if you're in Arequipa, the reasons are relatively easy to explain. The Incas believed that their gods, both the earth mother (Pachamama) and the mountains (known as apus) periodically required human sacrifices in order to guarantee good harvests. The Incas sacrificed children, usually (but not always) girls and typically of noble birth, because they were considered pure. While the concept of being forced to hike up a mountain in sandals, then being drugged and killed is unpleasant, it was supposedly considered an honor by the victims who then became immortal (although since the Incas didn't have a system of writing and the children didn't live to tell their side of the story this is something of a conjecture.) The sacrifice took place on top of a mountain because it was a sacrifice to the mountain.
There's much more to Inca religion than this bare recitation of facts, and through an introductory video and an hourlong guided tour (usually in English), this museum amply explains much of it. The guides do so by making reference to many objects found at Inca sacrificial sites in the area, including Juanita's garments. Pride of place goes to Juanita's corpse itself, although it is rotated with that of other child sacrificial victims found in the area in a specially cooled chamber. The corpses were only discovered in the late 1990s after volcanic eruptions near Arequipa caused the snow on nearby mountains to melt, which allowed archaelogical expeditions to ascend the peaks. Technically speaking, the corpses are not mummies since they were preserved by the cold rather than by binding or chemical techniques.Regardless of whether you find the aforementioned summary fascinating or revolting, the museum itself is interesting, both for the story that it tells and the sheer beauty of many of the objects displayed. In particular, Juanita's coat is so well preserved that you can still see the blood spots from the single death blow that she received. On a slightly more pleasant note, the small precious sculptures of llamas buried with the victims are as exquisite as any I've seen in any of Peru's fine archaeological museums. I highly recommend a visit to this museum to get a sense not only of Inca religion, but also of the culture's relationship with the mountains that encircle Arequipa.
From journal Trying to Think Like a Local: Studying Spanish in Arequipa
Bristol, United Kingdom
September 3, 2005
Juanita is the best preserved pre-Columbian mummy in South America. Carbon-14 dating has put her at around 1490AD. A girl of only 14 years, she was brought from Cusco and sacrificed to appease the gods of the Ampato volcano.
Rather than mummification in the Egyptian sense, where the body is embalmed, Juanita was effectively deep frozen by the ivy conditions at the 6,380m summit.
It was over 500 years later that she was found in 1995 by anthropologist Dr Johan Reinhard as the ice on Ampato briefly melted due to the eruption of the adjacent Sabancaya volcano.
You can still see Juanita, sealed in her chamber at -20°C. It doesn't take any imagination to see what she would have been like. I found it very eerie.
Between January and March, Juanita is taken away for restoration and another mummy is displayed in her place.
The rest of the museum has artifacts found with the mummies. They are in stunningly good condition, in particular, the clothes you would have sworn had come straight from the nearest market stall.
A video (in English) sets the scene, following Dr Reinhard as he finds more mummies. It also gives a recreation of what Juanita´s last journey must have been like.
The entire tour cost S./15, with a tip for the guide at the end. Photography is not allowed.
I enjoyed this well organised and haunting view into history and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Arequipa.
From journal Arequipa Dreams
Royal Oak, Michigan
May 11, 2001
The tour consists of two parts the first half was a National Geographic Society video that was about Juanita. I had already seen it so it was not really all that meaningful but if you know nothing it is better than a guide that can only speak garbled English. (Note: our guide spoke pretty good English.) After the video you are taken into a series of four rooms. The first three contain grave offerings that were found with Juanita and the other mummies on Ampato. The last room contained the remains of Juanita and two other mummies found on Ampato. They are encased in refrigerated glass cases.
A couple of notes: I was lucky. Juanita was away being studied at another university until the day before I arrived. While she was away the museum was still open so you may want to ask if Juanita is there before you pay for the entrance.
From journal Arequipa - The White City of Peru