Impact on mummy skull suggests murder
Blunt force trauma to the skull of a mummy with signs of Chagas disease may support homicide as cause of death, which is similar to previously described South American mummies, according to a study published February 26, 2014 in PLOS ONE by Stephanie Panzer from Trauma Center Murau, Germany, and colleagues, a study that has been directed by the paleopathologist Andreas Nerlich from Munich University. For over a hundred years, the unidentified mummy has been housed in the Bavarian State Archeological Collection in Germany. To better understand its origin and life history, scientists examined the skeleton, organs, and ancient DNA using a myriad of techniques: anthropological investigation, a complete body CT scan, isotope analysis, tissue histology, molecular identification of ancient parasitic DNA, and forensic injury reconstruction.
Radiocarbon dated to around 1450 -- 1640 AD, skeletal examination indicated that the mummy was likely 20-25 years old at the time of her death, and her skull exhibits typical Incan-type skull formations. Fiber from her hair bands appear to originate from South American llama or alpaca. Isotope analysis of nitrogen and carbon in her hair reveal a diet likely comprising maize and seafood, which, along with other evidence suggest South American origin and a life spent in coastal Peru or Chile.
The mummy also showed significant thickening of the heart, intestines, and the rectum, features typically associated with chronic Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic infection. DNA analysis of parasites found in rectum tissue samples also support chronic Chagas disease, a condition she probably had since early infancy. The skull structure where a massive skull and face trauma occurred, suggests the trauma was acquired prior to death, and indicates massive central blunt force. The young Incan may have been victim of a ritual homicide, as has been observed in other South American mummies.
- Mummy Murder Mystery: Inca Woman Victim of Foul Playfrom MSNBC: ScienceThu, 27 Feb 2014, 11:30:48 EST
- Impact on mummy skull suggests murderfrom Science DailyThu, 27 Feb 2014, 9:01:12 EST
- Mysterious mummy ritually sacrificedfrom BBC News: Science & NatureThu, 27 Feb 2014, 5:50:13 EST
- Mummy Murder Mystery: Incan Woman Victim of Foul Playfrom MSNBC: ScienceWed, 26 Feb 2014, 19:20:19 EST
- ScienceShot: Mystery Mummy Was Ritually Murderedfrom Science NOWWed, 26 Feb 2014, 17:40:09 EST
- In Images: The Mummy of A Murdered Incan Womanfrom Live ScienceWed, 26 Feb 2014, 17:20:24 EST
- Mummy Murder Mystery Solved: Incan Woman's Head Smashedfrom Live ScienceWed, 26 Feb 2014, 17:20:23 EST
- Impact on mummy skull suggests murderfrom PhysorgWed, 26 Feb 2014, 17:20:10 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Bats' flight technique could lead to better drones
- Six new fossil species form 'snapshot' of primates stressed by ancient climate change
- 'Slow' NZ seabed quake sheds light on tsunami-earthquake mechanism
- World's shallowest slow-motion earthquakes detected offshore of New Zealand
- UCI astronomers determine precise mass of a giant black hole
- Seeking to rewind mammalian extinction
- Perceived diversity in neighborhoods is related to more prejudice, study finds
- Imodium for a legal high is as dumb and dangerous as it sounds
- An experiment seeks to make quantum physics visible to the naked eye
- Made better through science: Calcite tuned to be mollusk-tough
- Critically Endangered and ancient Himalayan wolf needs global conservation attention
- Nearby massive star explosion 30 million years ago equaled detonation of 100 million suns
- Newly discovered titanosaurian dinosaur from Argentina, Sarmientosaurus
- One oil field a key culprit in global ethane gas increase
- First multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease reveals troubling trends