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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mummified Inca Goes on Display

The mummified remains of a girl discovered in 1999 went on display in Argentina this week. Found on Mount Llullaillaco, a volcano in north-west Argentina on the border with Chile, the body was so well-preserved that many have referred to it as "perfect." Only 15 when she was killed, she was found along with the remains of two others -- a younger boy and girl -- and believed to have been ritualistically sacrificed by the Incas approximately 500 years ago.

Incredibly, some are upset with the display, insisting it is disrespectful of the dead. I could be cynical and note that the girl was systematically executed and left where she lay, but why not press the point more clearly:

While it can be argued that such displays are disrespectful of the dead, I believe the more important issue here is whether or not the display teaches us anything of true value. As this exhibition is important for many reasons, across many fields (history, science, weather, medical, cultural, more), I submit that the benefits to the living far outweighs the perceived disrespect of the dead. Don't forget that the girl was most likely sacrificed "for the betterment of the community/tribe," and that is absolutely no different.

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