Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What did Peruvian mummies eat?

Research undertaken by Trent University assistant anthropology professor Jocelyn Williams into the diets of recently unearthed mummies has revealed fascinating insights into the lives of the ancient Inca of Peru.

An ancient cemetery containing the remains of 500-year old mummies was discovered underneath the coastal town of Tupac Amaru, located near Lima, Peru. Due to the extreme dryness of this coastal desert, the people buried there were exceptionally well preserved and many still retained their skin, hair, fingernails, eyelashes, and even tattoos.

Prof. Williams sampled different tissues from the mummies, such as bone, skin, hair, nail, tendon and muscle to test for chemical signatures left behind by the various foods consumed by these people.