The Ice Maiden mummy named Juanita is Arequipa‘s most globally famous attraction. She is believed to have been a sacrificial offering by Inca priests to the volcano Mount Ampato, where she remained buried in snow for over 500 years. In 1995, the scholar Johan Reinhard, a specialist in high altitude archaeology, discovered Juanita’s well-preserved remains shortly after the eruption of a neighboring volcano melted the ice that encased her tomb high atop the Ampato’s peak. Scientific study of the mummy’s remains, including DNA analysis, have afforded great insights into Inca culture.
Juanita’s home is now at Museo Santuarios Andinos, located just off the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa. The museum was created especially to display artifacts associated with the discovery of mummies in the Arequipa region. Upon arrival, visitors are escorted to a viewing room to watch an informative video detailing the discovery of Juanita and what we know about her and the culture she was a part of. Juanita is believed to have been 13 years old at her time of death. Her young life ended with a blow to the back of the head, which appears as a skull fracture in x-ray analyses. Following the video, visitors are divided into small groups with either Spanish- or English-speaking guides who explain the context behind the Incan artifacts on display. Photography is not permitted inside the museum.