Archaeologist Johan Reinhard, 52, a senior research fellow at the Mountain Institute, an education and research organization in Franklin, W.Va., stumbled on her mummified remains while climbing and carried her 20,700 feet down the mountain on his back. "I was 90 percent sure that I had a unique find," he says. Now the centuries-old child—perhaps the best-preserved pre-Columbian body ever found—sits in a refrigerated, glass-enclosed display case at the National Geographic Society's Explorers' Hall in Washington. In the first two days of viewing, nearly 8,000 people saw her.
She has been dubbed, variously, the Maiden of Ampato (for the mountain where she was found), the Ice Maiden, even Juanita. And she has figured, ever so slightly, in this year's presidential race. At a Democratic fund-raiser, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) joked: "In high school, she dated Bob Dole." President Clinton told the crowd if he were single he might ask Juanita out. Their humor was not universally welcomed. Clinton's remarks were called "tacky" by Peruvian scientists who felt the mummy should not have been taken out of their country. Before she goes home on June 19, U.S. scientists will have analyzed her body to learn about diet and disease in a lost world. Says Reinhard: "It's like a key to understanding Incan culture."