This 2000-year-old mummified young girl believed to have had her head elongated as a mark of her social status has now been returned to her native Peru from the United States.
The mummified body will be preserved in the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru in the country’s capital Lima, where experts will analyse it to learn more about the pre-Hispanic Collagua culture the girl is believed to have belonged to.
Video Credit: CEN
The mummy was previously kept at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History in the state of Texas.
It is around 50 centimetres (20 inches) long and is wrapped in rope bundles which cover it completely beside its face. The girl was reportedly positioned with her arms across her chest and her knees tucked in.
The Vice Minister of Cultural Heritage, Guillermo Cortes, said that the mummy would allow experts to learn more about the funeral practices of the pre-Hispanic societies in the country.
According to Peruvian experts, the mummy is a child between two and four years old, with evidence of cranial modification, while studies in the United States show the mummy was a young girl between six and eight years old.
Cortes said it is thought that the child belonged to the Collagua society, who lived in the Colca area of southern Peru and are believed to have used bandages or special hats to elongate their babies’ skulls as a sign of social status.
In the video, experts in Peru can be seen taking the mummy out of the box it was transported to the country in.
The mummy was reportedly taken to the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History in 1957 as a gift from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City, but the AMNH has no record of it.
The current Collections Manager at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, Jilian Becquet, told local media the mummy probably came from “somebody looking to steal things from Peru” but its exact origin is unclear.
Becquet said that the mummy had not been displayed since the 1980s as it no longer fits their “mission as a museum” and was previously being kept in storage.
The museum chose to return the mummy after negotiations started by the Peruvian Embassy in the United States.
According to local media, over 7,000 pieces of Peruvian archaeological heritage have been returned to the country in the last eight years.