This museum displays mummies found on the mountaintops around Arequipa. The museum is often known as "Juanita" after its most famous resident.
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.