In Images: The Mummy of A Murdered Incan Woman

Mummy mystery

incan mummy

(Image credit: Panzer et. al, PLOS ONE 2014)

A 2014 paper in PLOS ONE has revealed that a mysterious mummy that had languished in German collections for over a century was once an Incan woman who was killed with several strikes to the head, possibly in a ritual murder.

Mummy braids

an incan mummy's hair

(Image credit: Panzer et al, PLOS ONE 2014)

The mummy wore hair bands made of alpaca and lllama hair, suggesting she came from South America.

Distinctive Incan bones

wormian bones commonly found in peruvian mummies

(Image credit: Panzer et al, PLOS ONE 2014)

The skulls also had charateristic "Wormian" bones often found on South American populations but not in European ones.

Normal exterior

incan mummy face

(Image credit: Panzer et al, PLOS ONE 2014)

The mummy's face looked fairly normal from the outside, but inside, its skull bones were crushed

Extensive damage

ct scan of bludgeoned mummy woman's skull

(Image credit: Panzer et al, PLOS ONE 2014)

A closer look using a CT scan revealed that her frontal skull bones were completely smashed.

Thickened heart wall

incan mummy skull ct scans

(Image credit: Panzer et al, PLOS ONE 2014)

The mummy also showed signs of thickened heart wall and a distended bowel, which was probably caused by Chagas disease.


ct scans of an incan mummy body

(Image credit: Panzer et al, PLOS ONE 2014)

Here, CT scans of the body of the Incan mummy

Tia Ghose
Managing Editor

Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.