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Reading: Funerary Artifacts, Social Status, and Atherosclerosis in Ancient Peruvian Mummy Bundles


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Funerary Artifacts, Social Status, and Atherosclerosis in Ancient Peruvian Mummy Bundles


M. Linda Sutherland ,

Newport Diagnostic Center, Newport Beach, CA, US
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Samantha L. Cox,

Department of Archeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, GB; Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, US
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Guido P. Lombardi,

Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, PE
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Lucia Watson,

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, MX
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Clide M. Valladolid,

Museo de Sitio Puruchuco-Arturo Jimenez Borja, Lima, PE
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Caleb E. Finch,

Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, US
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Albert Zink,

Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC), Bolzano/Bozen, IT
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Bruno Frohlich,

National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, US
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Hillard S. Kaplan,

Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, US
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David E. Michalik,

Miller Children's Hospital of Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, US
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Michael I. Miyamoto,

Mission Heritage Medical Group, St. Joseph Heritage Health, Mission Viejo, CA, US
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Adel H. Allam,

Al-Azhar University, Cairo, EG
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Randall C. Thompson,

Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, US
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L. Samuel Wann,

Cardiovascular Physicians, Columbia St. Mary's Healthcare, Milwaukee, WI, US
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Jagat Narula,

Department of Global Affairs, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, US
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Gregory S. Thomas,

MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial, Long Beach, CA; University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, US
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James D. Sutherland

University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, US
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Background: Evidence of atherosclerotic plaques in ancient populations has led to the reconsideration of risk factors for heart disease and of the common belief that it is a disease of modern times.

Methods: Fifty-one wrapped mummy bundles excavated from the sites of Huallamarca, Pedreros, and Rinconada La Molina from the Puruchuco Museum collection in Lima, Peru, were scanned using computed tomography to investigate the presence of atherosclerosis. Funerary artifacts contained  ithin the undisturbed  mummy bundles were analyzed as an attempt to infer the social status of the individuals to correlate social status with evidence of heart disease in this ancient Peruvian group. This work also provides an inventory of the museum mummy collection to guide and facilitate future research.

Results: Statistical analysis concluded that there is little association between the types of grave goods contained within the bundles when the groups are pooled together. However, some patterns of artifact type, material, atherosclerosis, and sex emerge when the 3 excavation sites are analyzed separately.

Conclusions: From the current sample, it would seem that social class is difficult to discern, but those from Huallamarca have the most markers of elite status. We had hypothesized that higher-status individuals may have had lifestyles that would place them at a higher risk for atherogenesis. There seems o be some indication of this within the site of Huallamarca, but it is inconclusive in the other 2  rcheological sites. It is possible thata larger sample size in the future could reveal more statistically significant results.

How to Cite: Sutherland ML, Cox SL, Lombardi GP, Watson L, Valladolid CM, Finch CE, et al.. Funerary Artifacts, Social Status, and Atherosclerosis in Ancient Peruvian Mummy Bundles. Global Heart. 2014;9(2):219–28. DOI:
Published on 01 Jun 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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