LIMA, Peru — The mummified toddler seized from antiquities traffickers is at least 700 years old and sits, spine curved forward, only about a foot tall.
It was welcomed back to Peru on Tuesday as a sort of celebrity, a symbol of the nation’s effort to protect its cultural heritage.
“This small package,” Culture Minister Luis Peirano told reporters, “is just a sample of the sacking, of the violation of our patrimony and all our inheritance.”
Police in neighbouring Bolivia seized it two years ago as a Bolivian citizen tried to ship it to an address in Compiegne, France, in a cardboard box.
Bolivia’s culture minister, Pablo Groux, formally handed it over to Peru on Tuesday.
It was wrapped in white linen because of its precarious condition, with underlying cloth made of cotton and wool from some sort of cameloid, which include llamas and alpacas.
Only two of the five pieces of cloth in which it was wrapped are original, and its left leg belonged to another child.
“To raise its commercial value, they added the other material and the leg,” said Blanca Alva, the Peruvian Culture Ministry official in charge of protecting the country’s patrimony.
The mummy’s sex is uncertain.