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Peabody Museum has acquired a real, pre-Incan mummy which has rapidly disintegrated during the last week into piles of bones and blood-stained garments after being unwrapped by students in archaeology.
Loaned for study and unwrapping by the Peruvian government, the mummy was one of a number collected by Julio C. Tello, Honorary Curator of Andean Archaeology. Alfred Kidder, instructor in Anthropology, is supervising research on the 1500-year old specimen.
Seated cross-legged in a basket, the dead Indian was wrapped in hundreds of yards of cotton and wool cloth and decked in all the finery of the historic civilization from the dry eastern sea-coast of South America.
Expert opinion offered by Earnest A. Hooton, professor of Anthropology and curator of Somatology indicates that the man was probably 40 years old when he died. Kidder explained that it was the custom in those days to keep the mummy lying around for as long as four years before he was finally buried in a hole in the ground, covered with sand.
With the specimen were priceless samples of primitive embroidery, depicting in vivid colors, gods, demons, and preserved human heads which the Indians collected as a hobby.
Peanuts, seeds, and other vegetables in a remarkable state of preservation have been salvaged from the sepulchre and a small piece of hammered gold is the only metal the mummy had with it in the grave.
Fragments of skin and flesh will be sent to Lee Wyman of Boston University to determine the blood grouping of the corpse, said Kidder. He also pointed out that the legs show traces of blue paint which will be analyzed to determine the pigment used.
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