For over a hundred years, an unidentified mummy has been housed in the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Germany. Since no records were available on the origin, life and living conditions, scientists used a broad panel of techniques to unravel the story of the female individual resulting in an intriguing observation with an unexpected paleopathological and forensic outcome.
Due to the dark brown external appearance she was tentatively assumed to represent a bog body from the Munich moorland area. However, the mummy had long plaits not commonly seen in past European populations and was in a crouched position.
A full investigation
The investigators undertook anthropological investigation, a complete body CT scan, isotope analysis, tissue histology, molecular identification of ancient parasitic DNA, and forensic injury reconstruction.
The results of this study have been presented in a paper published in PLOS ONE by Stephanie Panzer from Trauma Center Murau, Germany, and colleagues. The study was been directed by the palaeopathologist Andreas Nerlich from Munich University.
The mummified body was radiocarbon dated to around 1450 – 1640 AD, and skeletal examination indicated she was approximately 20-25 years old at the time of her death. Close examination of her skull showed that she had an Inca bone. This anatomical variation represents an additional bone in the lambdoid suture and is typically seen in South American populations, but not in European ones. Furthermore, the skull showed a conspicuous flattening indicating artificial deformity during the lifetime of the female.
Blunt force trauma
The upper and frontal parts of the skull as well as the midface were completely destroyed and collapsed.
Further examination 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.
Where a massive skull and face trauma occurred, it is likely this was acquired prior to death, and indicates a massive central blunt force. The young Incan may have been victim of a ritual homicide, as has been observed in other South American mummies.
Fibre 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 suggests South American origin and a life spent in coastal Peru or Chile.
Source: Past Horizons: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2014/examination-shows-blunt-force-trauma-to-skull-of-mummy