In 1990 in SouthernPeru (Figure 1), a volcano in the Peruvian Andes began erupting, its heat and hot ash coming out of it clearer many layers of snow from the mountains. This included Mount Ampato (Figure 2), found near Colca Canyon. Peru was home to the Ancient Inca Tribes.

Map of Peru
Figure 2. Ariel view of Nevado Ampato (back) from the north-east, with the active Volcan Savancaya in front

Five years after the eruption, in September, anthropologist and archaeologist Johan Reinhard and his climbing partner Miguel Zarate climbed Mount Ampato, and here, they made a tremendous discovery!

Reinhard had climbed many mountains before, and had also made many archaeological excavations.

During their climb on Mount Ampato, they discovered a crater containing a collapsed Inca Burial site. The collapsing of the site was caused by the previous volcanic eruption. Within the burial they spotted some bright feathers in the snow (part of a sacred ceremonial Inca headdress), stones that appeared from an Inca ceremonial platform, and a small cloth bundle frozen in place.

Figure 3. Reinhard with Ice Maidens body upon discovery
Mountain tomb: The burial site where the Ice Maiden was found

There within the bundle, was the body of a 12-14 year old girl, perfectly frozen in time. She lay in foetal position,wrapped in colourful textiles of alpaca wool surrounded by ritual objects. At this time, she was thebest preserved Inca mummy of all found in the Andes. Her remains, which turned out to be around 500 year old,were a fountain of discovery and information.
Juanita, or Ice Maiden