Andean Mummified Head
Dated 6'000 Years Old
Léo DUBAL & Monique LARREY
Virtual Laboratory for Archaeometry
dubal (at) archaeometry.org
A well preserved naturally mummified human head has been found in 1936
with two other mummies at La Cueva de las Momias, level 1A,
(misleadingly named Inca Cueva IV due to its proximity to the Camino de los Incas)
at 3680 m.o.s.l., in the Quebrada of Chulin (Prov.of Jujuy, Argentina)
by Justiniano TORRES APARICIO, MD and folkmusic composer.
His "Clavelito blanco" is interpreted by Thomas LIPAN
at url http://www.archaeometry.org/lipan.mp3 (188ko)
(while as sonor background for IE on XP).
A sample of temporal skin from the head of Chulina
has been radiocarbon dated at the AMS Radiocarbon Laboratory
of the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zürich. The resulting calibrated
age of Chulina is 6'080 ± 100 years (within 82% probability).
Compared with Ötzi (the paleoalpine mummy found in Ötztal),
the age of this paleoandean head is 5'260 ± 50 years BP,
i.e., older by 724 ± 53 years BP.
The Cave of the Mummies has been decorated prior to sheltering the mummies.
Those results have been presented at the XVth World Congress
UISPP 2006, Lisbon, see Proceed. Session C04, Vol 37, pp.111-114
The sample studied:
mummies found by J.
were desiccated naturally, and therefore suitable for radiocarbon dating.
(let us remind here that radiocarbon dating of embalmed
Egyptians mummies is meaningless).
study, was available a piece of temporal
skin of about 3 cm2 area and of a weight of 120 mg.
The sample of left temporal skin on millimetric paper (Photo: L. Dubal)
This sample was been carefully collected at the Museo J. TORRES APARICIO
in Humahuaca (Prov. Jujuy, Argentina), on the "Cabeza J.T.A.-240"
The naturally mummified human head labelled
in the Museum TORRES APARICIO (Photo: L. Dubal)
Thanks to the highly appreciated support of
George BONANI & Irka HAJDAS
from the AMS Radiocarbon Laboratory of the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zürich,
the skin sample of JTA-240,
after having been thoroughly degreased and washed from contaminants,
has been submitted to the standard ETH 14C-AMS dating method,
(which by the way has been applied for Ötzi )
and results released on July, 8th, 2005 as ETH-30630.
Discussion of the results
= -19.5 ± 1.1 °/°°
which is what one could expect for human skin.
The 14C-AMS Age is 5'260 ± 50 y BP
The calibrated age is BCE 4170 - 3972 with 82.5% probability
(while the age range BCE 4224 - 4180 has 17.5% probability).
Let us note
in 1986, Alicia FERNANDEZ DISTEL let perform
the radiodating of a sample of a wood container
found at level 1A, just next to the three mummies
gave 5'200 ± 110 y BP.
In 1995, another radiodating (by Beta Analytic in Miami) of a piece of wood,
gave 5'340 ± 70 y BP.
La Cueva de las Momias : a decorated shelter
The initial name of the site: Inca Cueva # 4,
is inappropriate as it has only been occupied by palaeoamericans
between 10 and 4 thousands years Before Common Era.
We renamed it "La Cueva de las Momias"
The authors, March 22nd 2005, at la Cueva de los Momias,
on the spot where, in 1936, J. Torres Aparicio exhumed
the mummies (Chulina, Chulinita & Rosalia). (Photo: P. Carentini)
Look at La Cueva de las Momias Looking out from La Cueva de las Momias
coordinates of La
Cueva de las Momias is
S23°00’22.6” / W65°28’05.1” 3680 mosl,
in the Quebrada de Chulin, 2 h walk off Rio Grande.
La Cueva de las Momias is decorated with painted patterns
with dots and strokes.
Candelaria Torres Aapricio, nieta del Dr. Justiniano Torres Aparicio
Two complete mummies
Humahuaca (Prov. Jujuy, Argentina), the collection
Justiniano TORRES APARICIO,
was transformed into the Museo J. TORRES APARICIO
In addition to the mummified head of Chulina,
the Museum present two complete mummies,Candelaria Torres Aapricio, nieta del Dr. Justiniano Torres Aparicio
in particular the one the inventor named Rosalia:
This mummy is the naturally dessicated remains
of a woman, 17 to 20 years old.
The fez of Rosalia is of a remarkable finishing.
as well as her manta (105cm x 63 cm) in net.
As no logbook of the excavations has been found so far,
radiodating of samples of the fez and manta,
would provide helpful data....
The last mummy is the one of a
child, we named Chulinita.
radiodating of the skin of Chulina in 2005
comforts the wood samples radiodatings of 1986 and 1995,
to promote Rosalia & Chulinita
for the title of the world oldest natural mummies.
Ötzi died 5'235 ± 120 calibrated-years,
while Rosalia & Chulinita
lived in all likelihood 6'000 calibrated-years ago.
The undisturbed state of the paintings of the Cave of the Mummies
implies that this RockArt is at least 6000 years old.
We would like to thank here Mrs. Alicia TORRES,
the owner and director of the Museo TORRES,
in Humahuaca (Jujuy, Argentina)
who authorized this study, and
Ms. Candelaria TORRES APARICIO, the grand daughter of Dr. J. TORRES APARICIO
to have lately express her interest in our results.
Click here for the
Click here for the french version http://www.archaeometry.org/momie.htm