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  • The mummy of a boy of Aymara origin, with an approximate age of 2,000 years, was returned to Peru by the Museum of Science and History of Corpus Christi in Texas, US.

    The mummy of a boy of Aymara origin, with an approximate age of 2,000 years, was returned to Peru by the Museum of Science and History of Corpus Christi in Texas, US. | Photo: EFE / Ministry of Culture of Peru

Published 9 February 2019

The infant mummy had been in the United States’ possession "possibly acquired by means of looting," Peruvian authorities said.

The mummy of a boy of Aymara origin, with an approximate age of 2,000 years, was returned to Peru by the Museum of Science and History of Corpus Christi in Texas, United States, official sources reported Friday.

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Peru's Ministry of Culture said in a statement that the repatriation of the mummy was possible thanks to its coordinated work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He added that the technical reports indicate the mummy, of a child between 2 to 4 years old, shows evidence of cranial modification "Aymara type" and is wrapped with heguillas that reveal their face and feet, so their origin " would probably be the altiplanic zone of the southern Peruvian sierra."

He specified that certain characteristics indicated that the child may have belonged to the Collagua culture.

Among other things, the Collagua were known for head-shaping practices that elite members of communities would use on babies as a mark of status with a stretched, elongated look.

Matthew Velasco, a bio-archaeologist at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, U.S. conducted a study, told Science News that the 'increasingly uniform head shapes may have encouraged a collective identity and political unity among Collagua elites.'

However, that practice didn’t come into effect until hundreds of years after the mummified child would have died.

Child mummy 2,000 years ago is returned to Peru by US museum. | EFE
 

"The recovered cultural asset contributes to the knowledge of the funeral practices used by the pre-Hispanic societies that would correspond precisely to the north of Arequipa and Cusco (in Peru), which has allowed the specialists to confirm their authenticity and belonging," said Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Industries Guillermo Cortes.

The deputy minister added that "the repatriation of this first infant mummy is good news that ratifies the policy of recovery of cultural heritage that governs the Ministry of Culture."

The Peruvian authorities detailed that it is estimated that the mummy arrived in 1966 at the Museum of Science and History of Corpus Christi and it is presumed that previously it was in the American Museum of Natural History, "possibly acquired by means of looting."

In 2017, Madeleine Fontenot, of the Texas Museum, informed the Peruvian Foreign Ministry about the possession of the mummy and on Jan. 4 the museum delivered it to the Peruvian Consulate General in Houston, thanks to the efforts of the Peruvian embassy in the United States.

The Ministry of Culture said that the mummy will remain in the National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History of Peru (MNAAHP), in the Lima district of Pueblo Libre, where radiological studies will be done.

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