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Expedition camp Llullaillaco
Photo print

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Excavation site
Photo print
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NOTES

We were on the summit of Llullaillaco. At 6739 m high it is the highest burial site ever explored. We had waited for four days for the wind to abate, while encamped in a snow bowl 75 m. below the summit.
Langli is used to the mountains and has accompanied me on a dozen high-altitude expeditions. He shouted the word that caused us to stop working instantly: "mummy, mummy!"
He and Flannagan uncovered a stone-and-gravel platform on the most exposed part of the summit.
More than 1,2 m down was a bundle wrapped in textiles. The frozen body of a boy, about eight years old. His knees were drawn up in a fetal position and bound tightly with a cord. The boy was in excellent condition.
Only two weeks before on another mountain-top not far from Llullaillaco we came across the battered remains of a human burial-site. Desecraters had preceded us.
On the south-side of the mountain, Flanagan uncovered another mummy. It was a girl of perhaps 14 years old. Scattered around her body we found some unfamiliar round and ridgy objects.
When I made preparations to store the mummy in the freezer, I removed the cloth from her face. She was extremely well preserved. Her hair was stylishly braided and she looked like she was sleeping. Her hands were perfectly lifelike.
Our fingertips became raw as we continued working on the summit. These conditions increased my respect for how the mummies were once buried in the ice. Because of the thin air we became lightheaded and it was hard to think clear.
After days of digging in the iced ground I found a small bundle. The outer covering was charred. The mummy had been struck by a lightning bolt that had penetrated more than 1m into the ground.