Juanita de Arequipa mummy at Museo Santuarios Andinos is presented in a dramatic fashion, re-telling what her experience would have been as a human sacrifice in Inca times
Museum curators worldwide would do well to heed how Museo Santuarios Andinos employs dramatic storytelling to embroider their exhibit.
Your tour begins with a short movie that conveys the excitement of Illinois-born anthropologist Johan Reinhard, who in 1995 discovered an intact mummy of an Incan sacrifice whom he named Juanita.
Juanita de Arequipa Centered Tour
The narrative is continued by a guide who takes you through a relatively small exhibit in darkened rooms. The tour culminates in seeing the mummy herself. While you are looking at seemingly miraculously preserved cloths and artifacts from the Juanita and related digs, you are told the story of how the climb to the sacrifice went—from the great honor bestowed on you to be chosen for sacrifice, the mind altering drugs you would ingest during your journey, the odds of dying along the way, the blow to the head the priests would give, and all the rituals of your burial.
This compelling narrative tour through the Incan artifacts and tiny Juanita’s tale can take you beyond the exhibit per se. For many of us, the tour can open a door to understanding just how exciting anthropological research can be.
If your trip itinerary allows, taking one of the ubiquitous Cuzco tours that includes Q’enqo will also allow you to see a ritual sacrifice area that is said to be used even today—although the offerings are not humans but rather llama fetuses that you see and can purchase in the Cuzco market.