The best preserved guanche mummy reveals its last secret

The best preserved guanche mummy reveals its last secret


The best-preserved Guanche mummy of all those that have survived to this day, which has been on display since 2015 in the Canary Islands room of the National Archaeological Museum (MAN), has just revealed one of its last secrets after two and a half centuries, moving from museum to museum in Madrid: it is 850 years old.

The MAN publishes in its last bulletin the first dating with Carbon 14 that is made of these human remains since in 1763 they were recovered from a cave in the Barranco de Herques, in Tenerife, and taken to the court of Carlos III precisely to show the Madrilenian society the amazing skill that the Guanches had developed in the preservation of corpses.

Since then, he has passed through the house of the regidor Francisco Javier Machado (1764), the Museum of Antiquities of the Royal Library (1766), the Royal Cabinet of Natural History (1771, later renamed Museum of Natural Sciences, 1815), the Museum National Anthropology (1910) and the National Archaeological Museum (2015). It was even taken to the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1878.

However, until now it has not been dated in a reliable way. A study commissioned by the MAN to the National Center of Accelerators of Seville from two samples of tissue taken from a shoulder of the mummy reveals that this Guanche male died in all probability between 1154 and 1260 AD.

That dating, gives it about 850 years old, with a margin of error of 30 years above or below, a figure very similar to that which has been obtained in other dates of Guanche mummies made in the last decade: 850 years for the mummy recovered from the Guayanje ravine, 940 for another from La Orotava and 830 for the "NEC 2" mummy from the Archaeological Museum of Tenerife.

That date assumes that he is half the age of the oldest Guanche mummy of all known, one recovered from the ravine of Hell, in Adeje, and belonging to an individual who died at the end of the third century (1,665 years of age of Carbon 14). ).

However, this mummy of the Herques ravine is not famous for the antiquity that was supposed, but for its exceptional preservation, which was even evident among the nearly a thousand bodies of ancient Guanches that rested in its same cave when it was discovered, according to wrote the naturalist José de Viera y Clavijo in 1772, only eight years after its shipment to Madrid.

The transfer of this guanche body from the National Museum of Anthropology to that of Archeology in 2015 was followed by a battery of studies that shed light on who was that individual and on the intricacies of the process used by the Guanches to preserve the corpses (or "xaxos"). "), which they called" mirlado ".

Much of the findings obtained through these studies have been published for some time, but the MAN bulletin now summarizes them in three articles dedicated to this mummy from Tenerife.

It is an adult male who died between 35 and 40 years, 1.62 meters tall, with all his teeth preserved, without any wear and tear, with "Negroid features" and hands that do not reveal that he had done physical work hard.

On the other hand, the TAC that was made to that body to check how it was inside revealed that the viscera were not removed to mummify it and that it even conserves the brain, which contradicts some historical Castilian chronicles that tell how was the process of mirlado. EFE

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