In 1999, a woman named “The Maiden” was found near the summit of a 22,110-ft Argentinian volcano called Llullaillaco.
The volcano is a popular hiking and mountain climbing destination. A group of climbers seeking shelter from a storm discovered the girl’s body as they were ascending to the peak.
Scientists swabbed her body and mouth to see what could be found through DNA testing. From the mummy’s mouth swabs, the team discovered that the girl was suffering from an illness similar to tuberculosis when she was sacrificed by the Incas 500 years ago.
The discovery of the 500-year-old bacterial strain could potentially help fight new or re-emerging diseases in the near future.
It was not just this girl that the mountain climbers stumbled upon. When a team of archaeologists began excavating they found two more children in the location, however, they were younger than the teen girl.
It is believed that the Incas practiced capacocha which is a form human sacrifice. Perhaps this perfectly preserved girl was sacrificed later due to her lung illness.
The curious can now view the mummy in the High Mountain Archaeological Museum in Argentina. You can even still see the lice that were in her hair at the time of her death.
The research team took DNA samples from thousands of Peruvians and linked a man from a Peruvian village as a direct descendant of the mummified teen.
Scientists are now using CRISPR to edit DNA. With the DNA from the mummy, the possibilities are endless for possible cures of the current lung diseases.