TITLE: Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes
AUTHOR: Johan Reinhard
DATE PUBLISHED: 2005
"Half a millennium ago, a party of Inca priests and a young virgin climbed more than 20,000 feet to the summit of the Andean peaks of Ampato. At the climax of their ceremony, the girl was sacrificed and buried along with sacred offerings of textiles, food, and figurines of silver and gold; there the Inca Ice Maiden would remain undisturbed for 500 years, until Johan Reinhard found her in 1995. It was a stunning discovery that made headlines all over the world - but it was just the beginning of this fascinating tale of adventure, high-altitude archaeology, and ground-breaking scientific accomplishment.
In his first-hand account, Reinhard, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, chronicles more than two decades of challenging research that led him on over 200 climbs of some fo the world's highest mountains, and culminated in two seasons of unprecedented finds - first the ice maiden on Ampato, and four years later on Llullaillaco, where three Inca children lay frozen in a state of near-perfect preservation. Dead for centuries yet still alive in their startling humanity, they are mute yet eloquent witnesses to ancient Inca civilization and custom, yielding everything from statuary and ceremonial clothing to DNA samples - each a new piece in the cultural puzzle that is Reinhard's life work.
A mesmerizing blend of mountaineering adventure and archaeological quest, The Ice Maiden boasts everything from live volcanoes and deadly lightning storms to grave robbers and fierce academic rivalries that threatened Reinhard's team as they raced time and the weather to compelte their demanding task. Every reader will feel their tense mix of excitement and anxiety, and share their exhilarioation as they unearth long-buried treasures that exceed even their most hopeful dreams.
This extraordinarily vivid eyewitness account documents two of the most important discoveries in the history of South American archaeology. A riveting tale that takes the long forgotten and makes it unforgettable, it represents at once a momentous scientific achievement and a pricelss contribution to the cultural heritage of the Incas' descendatns in Peru and Argentina."
This book describes Johan Reinhard's personal experiences in climbing various Andes mountain peaks; leading archaeological expeditions to find Inca mummies and artifacts; all the "fun" interpersonal/ inter-university/ inter-organisational politcs that preserving and studying important archaeological artifacts entails, and the importance of these discoveries (especially when considering looters' habits of theft and dynamite usage). Reinhard provides the reader with a fascinating look at how the Ice Maiden (and other ice mummies) were found, the difficulties encountered on expeditions to extreme (and sometimes not so extreme) locations, as well as organising (and finding funding) for special permanent storage containers and facilities for these ice mummies. The author provides a brief description of Inca culture, with an emphasis on their high altitude (as far up the mountain as they could possible go) child sacrifices and their beliefs in Mountain gods. I found there was a bit too much about the author and not enough about the Incas in general and the finds specifically. However, this book was well-written with numerous black & white photographs, as well as a section of colour plates.