KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two mummies owned by the Kansas City Museum have new stories to tell after CT scans revealed information about their background for the first time in centuries.
The mummies will now join the “Mummies of the World” traveling exhibit to tour for the next few years, the Kansas City Star reported .
CT scan results recently identified the mummies as a man and a woman, both in their 20s, who lived and died about 650 years ago in the Andes highlands near Lake Titicaca in South America. The scans were initially conducted at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City in September.
The Kansas City Museum obtained the mummies from a businessman who purchased them in La Paz, Bolivia, in 1921. The mummies were originally placed in organic baskets, which identify them as from the Aymara culture. They’re being renamed Runa and Warmi, which mean “man” and “woman” in the Aymara language.
“Basket mummies are not very numerous,” said Randall Thompson, a cardiologist who coordinated the international team studying the CT scan results. “The face on Runa is showing. That’s by design. The descendants of these mummies would bring them out periodically to talk to them and perhaps give ceremonial meals. And when the conquering Spaniards came, they viewed that as being ancestor worship and idolatry. So they destroyed a lot of these mummies, and there are not very many of them around, which makes ours a cultural treasure.”
The team studying the scans also used 3-D imaging and holograms to learn more information about the mummies, including their height and health. He and colleagues have scanned or studied scans of about 300 mummies from around the world since 2009. Thompson’s primary interest is in learning about heart disease in ancient people.
Thompson will present the CT scan findings publicly on Dec. 2 in Kansas City, and has cryptically mentioned plans to reveal a detail about a “traveler” in the body of the male mummy that the research team had not seen before.
“There’s a surprise inside of the mummy,” Thompson said. “We’ll reveal that when we have a little more information.”