A delicate task that has required a lot of time is that referring to the cleaning, conservation and analysis of the numerous textile pieces that made up the funerary bundle. The initial work was carried out by Professor Monica Ampucro de Guercio, with the advice of Lic. Julie Palma (then in charge of the respective section of the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art). After an interruption, they were taken up again in 1991 by Professor Clara Abal and Mr. Ferrari, who also had the advice of the Museum. With private funds, a Textile Laboratory was set up in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters that allowed progress in these works in a technically adequate manner. This contribution to the cultural study of the Aconcagua burial should be especially highlighted. Some questions arise: how do we know that this burial corresponds to the Incas of Peru? When and why did these arrive to the northwest of Mendoza? Because it is supposed to be a human sacrifice, and what was the meaning of these practices Aconcagua Argentina
Let’s say first of all that the finding we are commenting on is one of the rare cases of “frozen mummies”, that is, well-preserved bodies for having been buried in places near high peaks of the Andes Mountains, at more than 5,000 meters Tall. In this way they differ from the numerous “drying mummies” that are usually found in the arid zones of the Peruvian coast and northern Chile. such as wood, leather, feathers, etc.). The second correspond to different times and cultures; On the other hand, the “high-altitude mummies” are, until now, exclusively attributable to the Inca Empire, which with its capital in Cuzco was formed and expanded in the fifteenth century and later fell under the troops of Francisco Pizarro in the year 1532.
Three of these finds come from the extreme south of this extensive empire, and are also the best documented archaeologically: Cerro El Plomo in central Chile (5,400 meters), Cerro El Toro in the NW of the province Aconcagua
of San Juan (approximately 6,200 meters) and Aconcagua hill in the province of Mendoza; here, not near the summit but in a place located at 5,300 meters. But there are also numerous other high-altitude sites, more or less complex, in which archaeological elements originating from pre-Columbian ritual practices have appeared. (Antonio Beorchia published a record of more than 100 of these places in 1987). The exploration and study of it have given rise to an original branch of research called «high mountain archaeology». These findings are notable not only for their content but also for what it meant for the indigenous people with their limited technical means to reach those heights (in two cases, the Mercedario and the Llullaiyaco, up to 6,700 meters) and even carry out constructions on them. . To locate them culturally we must say two words about the Inca expansion towards the South. From data collected How to Climb Aconcagua
by the chroniclers of the time of the conquest, we know that the imperial phase of the Incas (until then, a local kingdom with its capital in Cuzco) began in the year 1438 with the seizure of power by the Inca Yupanqui (whom he was given the title of Pachacuti (“renovator of the world”). Firstly, he defeated neighboring enemies; shortly after, he conquered the Colla kingdom and other smaller ones located around Lake Titicaca. With these and other territories (many of them integrated into the empire peacefully), the Tahuantinsuyo was organized, that is, the kingdom of the “Four Regions.” His son, Tupac Inca Yupanqui, continued the expansion towards the south of the Andean area, Mount Aconcagua
reaching in a few years (approximately between 1475 and 1480) the extreme reached: Uspallata valley in Argentina and Maipo and Cachapoal river valleys in Chile.These territories were integrated into the southern sector of the empire called Collasuyo, linked to each other and to Cuzco through the admirable network of paths s and roads that have recently been the subject of detailed studies. In northwestern Argentina and in Cuyo these trails are sometimes preserved (often long straight stretches, dotted with shelters or “tambos” (tampu) that today appear as small ruins of pircado enclosures. Numerous branches crossed the Cordillera or other high mountains such as Famatina in the province of La Rioja Another very interesting case is that of Aconquija, where a branch of the road that ascends from the Santa Maria valley (province of Catamarca) crosses that high mountain range and ends in a remarkable group of constructions located at 4,200 meters includes large squares for ceremonies and is crowned by an enclosure or square also of a symbolic or ceremonial nature on the summit of the nearby Cerro de las Cuevas, at almost 5,000 meters. such as this must have been associated with mining deposits, especially metals, whose search and domination was undoubtedly one of the reasons for the Inca expansion.