The preservation of Egyptian mummies was a religious ritual meant to provide those who had passed with their worldly possessions as they journeyed into the afterlife and reincarnation. Many other ancient societies practiced mummification as well. In the Incan civilization, bodies were interred with food, bowls, and other items meant to assist the departed on their postmortem journey. The wrapping of the body and its personal effects in cotton (and/or other fabrics) concluded a rite that came to be known as the Incan mummy bundles.
Not relegated solely to royalty, Incan mummification included other high-ranking members of society as well as common folk and was often the result of human sacrifice. Some of the sacrifices were preserved on the frozen mountains where their lives ended, their offerings of food and provisions packed beside them. Perhaps the most stunning discovery of this kind was the Lima mummies that make up an Incan cemetery in Peru.
Called Puruchuco, the cemetery held the "Cotton King," a mummy wrapped in 300 pounds of the titular textile. The Cotton King mummy provided the most epic example of the Incan burial process, presenting mysteries that remain unsolved to this day.
The Cotton King's Bundle Included A Child And More Than 70 Artifacts
Discovered by archaeologists in their 1999 pursuit to preserve an Incan burial ground named Puruchuco, the Cotton King was wrapped in 300 pounds of the material from which he earned his name. The Cotton King is thought to have been a ruler of the Incan people based on his bundle, which contained a headpiece created from multiple colorful feathers - a sign of cultural importance - as well as oyster shells that adorned his covering.
A child also shared the intricate shroud with the Cotton King, as did 70 artifacts from his highness's life. The Cotton King wore sandals - a sign of wealth - and was buried alongside animal furs, food, and a variety of other high-value items.