Details of a successful expedition to Aconcagua

In Puente del Inca we were hosted by the Mountain Regiment and its chief, Major Diego Oswald, provided us with mules to transport the load to the first camp. This was installed at a point in the Quebrada de Horcones, called Playa Ancha, at about 3,800 meters. Tall. Eduardo Guercio returned from here, prey to embarrassment. The rest of us continued on the 25th, going up the steep Quebrada del Sargento Mas. The second camp was made at about 4,400 meters. While we were dozing, after midnight, we felt a swaying, sign of a strong earthquake. Thinking that the epicenter was in Chile or in the Pacific, we did not worry too much. Then we found out that the most affected area was the city of Mendoza itself!…The next day we advanced to the base camp located at 4,600 meters, and finally we climbed, partly on a fairly steep glacial channel, to the high camp, located on a rocky pass at 5,200 meters. The next day -January 28- they still had to overcome a wall, before finally reaching the site of the discovery, the initially mentioned edge that according to the altimeter is about 5,300 meters. It is the beginning of the triangular buttress called «Pyramid». About 50 meters further on, a high wall begins that must have meant an insurmountable obstacle for the indigenous people in case they had wanted to continue ascending there. For two days we worked on the site, which was surveyed and explored, proving the existence of two thick semicircular walls with pierced walls, very demolished. and a circle of stones one meter in diameter. In the filling protected by one of the pircas, the funerary bundle was found, half-buried due to the displacement of part of the earth, which contained the strongly folded body of a child of about 7 years of age. It was wrapped in numerous textile pieces, the outermost being a cloak completely crimped with yellow feathers, probably from a parrot. As for the “grass” that the climbers thought they saw, it turned out to correspond to a set of yellow and black feathers that had been part of a plume. The skull had a break due to erosion, having been exposed to the elements. Inside, the brain could be seen, collapsed due to dehydration. After several hours of work, the bundle was carefully removed from the hard “permafrost” (frozen ground) in which it was placed, and while the laboratory technician J. Ferrari was in charge of its packaging and preparation for the descent, another group proceeded to continue the excavation, trying to reach laterally until the pirca. Shortly after initiation, we were fortunate to find within the same filling in which the mummy had been placed six magnificent statuettes of typical Inca style: three humans, with their clothing and plumage intact, male, whose height (without clothing) The first is 59 millimeters (made of rolled gold), the second is 52 mm (silver with copper alloy), and the third is 47 mm (made in a valve from the Pacific Ocean, called Spondylus). The others were three small figures of llamas, highly stylized; one of laminated gold and the other two of Spondylus valve (a material highly valued by the Incas, who called it mullu) with a red vein on one side and white on the other. This trousseau undoubtedly has symbolic importance and a direct connection with several other high-mountain archaeological sites that have also provided this type of statuettes. The extraction and preliminary examination of such an unexpected find meant the culminating moment of our expedition. Let us still say that at the end of the excavation of the funerary bundle, a pair of braided fiber sandals (eyelets) and two small bags of the same material were removed from its external part, one of which contained plant elements, which according to a subsequent analysis by botanist Fidel Roig It turned out to be a rare variety of beans, which had been cooked. (It is thus quite clear that it was a symbolic food for the journey to the Beyond).As soon as the extraction of the figurines was finished and the mummy well packed in a rucksack, we had to start our retreat in a hurry since the weather broke down. The high camp was raised, and the descent down the glacier had to be done enduring a snow storm. Fortunately, and thanks to the expertise of the climbers, we reached the base camp without any problems. The rest of the return was carried out usually, arriving in Mendoza on January 31. The funerary bundle was deposited in a refrigerated chamber provided by LARLAC directed by Dr. R. Deis (one of the Institutes that make up CRICYT, the Mendoza Center for Scientific and Technological Research). One of his cabinets was also made available for further work. Once the expedition was successfully carried out, a triple problem of conservation, research, and museology was raised. The responsibility was great with respect to this exceptional find, the second in which we intervened (the first was with the mummy of El Toro hill in 1964 and also the second whose documentation was carried out scientifically from the outset. Fortunately, with With the help of excellent collaborators and with the initial economic support of CONICET and the Cuyana Association of Anthropology (and later also from the Ministry of Culture, Science and Technology of the Government of Mendoza) the obstacles were overcome, and we slowly headed towards the Carrying out an interdisciplinary study of the find, that is, both physical-biological and cultural, served us as an experience of what was done twenty years ago with the El Toro mummy, as well as the work of Chilean colleagues with the El Plomo hill mummy.