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My name is Mike Roach, and I am currently a student at Arkansas State University.  At the present time I have a bachelor’s degree in Radiology with an emphasis in special procedures and management.  I am working toward a minor in Radiographic Bioanthropology and my pre-med requirements. 

The minor in Bioanthropology was established by Rick Carlton.  Rick is the physics professor for the radiology department at ASU.  Rick has a good friend by the name of Jerry Conalogue.  Jerry is Co-Director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac College, in Hamden, Conn.  Jerry has always been known for his unusual attraction for x-raying subjects most technologists would not consider.  Jerry’s latest fascination has been archeological artifacts and findings.  Jerry teamed up with the world known archeologist, Sonia Guillén.  Dr. Sonia Guillén is the  Director of Centro Mallqui, The Bioanthropology Foundation of Peru.  The web site for Cetnro Mallqui is  Sonia Guillén is in a race against time.  The Huercos have looted many of the cites and ancient graves are still being looted at an alarming rate.  Sonia Guillén is trying to salvage the remains and artifacts before all is destroyed or lost.  Also at the site we were at, a new water line was just put in.  The water line burst and uncovered a large cemetery of Chirabaya remains.  The  Huercos are also looting these burials.  Both Jerry Conlogue and Sonia Guillén have been looking for technologists to help x-ray remains of mummies and artifacts.  This is when Jerry turned to Rick for assistance.  Rick, Sonia, and Jerry set up an archeology workshop, which is held once a year in April.  The workshop allows all students to get a sample of archeology before they go to Peru.  The workshop counts as one hour of credit toward a college degree and must be completed in order to help in the archeological dig in Peru.  For more information on the time and details pertaining to the archeology workshop, visit

Last year, 2001, there were 35 groups of students that went to Peru.  I happened to be one of the lucky students to get the opportunity to be part of the archeology experience in Peru. The group I went with consisted of seven radiologic technologists, three Arkansas State University students, three Michigan students, and one of the Michigan students’ instructor.


Our main objective was to x-ray artifacts and remains.  X-raying does much less harm to the artifacts and remains compared to unwrapping the mummies or using an endoscope.  Also, by  x-raying the remains, a pathologist, Dr. Allison, can specify what the exact cause of death might have been for the individual.  In this picture  you can see an example of a mummy that was buried inside a large ceramic pot and if you look closely, you can see that a smaller pot was placed within the chest cavity of the mummy.webmummyxray.jpg (21706 bytes) To get an idea of the number of mummies which have been x-rayed, the stack of envelopes to my right contain x-rays of one mummy in each.  An AP and Lateral x-ray were obtained from each mummy bundle, and then a superio-inferior shot, if available.  So, on average, at least three x-rays were taken of each mummy bundle.  

All of our x-raying took place at Centro Mallqui,  .  Centro Mallqui is located northeast of Ilo, Peru.  Our lab was located on the bottom level of a three-story building.  Beside the lab building, was the Centro Mallqui Museum.  Here you can see the technique used to obtain a radiograph of a mummy bundle.  Our equipment was single phase and very out of date, but was in very good shape.  The black tube on the “bucket stand,” braced by rolls of duct tape was used for the AP and Lateral projections.  The blue tube at the top of the picture is used for the superio-inferior projection.  We used 14"x17" industrial strength film , which means the film requires a great deal of radiation to create an exposure and there weren’t any guides available for techniques.  The film was placed behind the mummy bundle when exposed by the radiation.


The following pictures are pictures of mummies found within a few miles of Centro Mallqui. webmummy02.jpg (41338 bytes) webmummy02.jpg, webmummy03.jpg, webmummy04.jpg, webmummy05.jpg, webmummy06.jpg, When the mummies are recovered, they are cleaned, carefully, by a few of Sonia’s employees.  After they are carefully cleaned, the mummies are stored until they are x-rayed.  Look very closely at these mummies.  Remember these mummies are over one thousand years old.  The rope and textile is still in tact that they were originally wrapped with.  The skin and hair are still on these ancient people.  Most mummies were buried with coca leaves and corn, which also survived the years.  One of the mummies was found with a bamboo chair still in tact that the mummy was buried sitting in.  This is all possible because of the climate.  The Desert is the second hottest desert in the world.  The soil contains very little acid and few bugs.  The water table is very deep and it has not rained in over 10 years.

Even though the digging material was sand, the excavation was very hard, tedious work.  We worked in grids.  For five days, we worked in four 3 meter by 3 meter webdgsite1.jpg (31831 bytes) grids.  The first day on the dig we found the top of a very special tomb.  This    shows the grid layout surrounding the tomb.  You can see in the background a huge olive orchard down in the valley.  In the valley flows the only river for miles.  The picture doesn’t show it very well, but the site is well up into the sand mountains.  These mountains are the beginning of the Andes Mountain webdgsite3.jpg (20290 bytes) range.  This picture shows how tedious the work was.  We used a brush and swept away sand to recover every piece of bone or ceramic.  Here we have only gone about one foot deep in the tomb and found many shards of ceramic.  This picture     is the tomb completely excavated.  The tomb was 2 meters 4 centimeters deep.  At the bottom we discovered two complete ceramic pots, two busted pots, and two yama skulls.  Joey, on of the archeologists, said the tomb was probably raided hundreds of years ago and the body was removed then.  Once we excavated the tomb, we began to excavate around the outskirts of the walls; this was where we found the unwrapped mummy that was very likely once buried in the tomb.  This shows also some of the tools used: 1) a metal scoop, 2) a soft bristle paint brush, 3) folding tape, and 4) a tape measure.  Also, this shows the depth of the tomb.  That is one of thewebdgsite4.jpg (35645 bytes) archeologists inside the tomb.  This Picture shows the layout of the grid when we finished the quarter webdgsite5.jpg.


The tomb was very special because normally the Chirabaya didn’t take the time to make walls or bury the dead that deep.  Most of the other mummies we found were infants or toddlers and only buried a foot or so below the surface.  This is a child that was buried beside a pot. webdgsite6.jpg  One of the last days of the dig, I found a small thread of textile within the wall of the profile.  I slowly removed the sand from around the textile and uncovered a huge pot.  There was only one tiny crack at the top of the pot.  Once we got back to Centro Mallqui, I x-rayed the pot and found that there was a fetus inside it, and also another pot.  We were at Centro Mallqui for over a week and x-rayed over 100 mummies, pots, and artifacts.  webdgsite8.jpg (34097 bytes)   dgsite7.jpg


webchirabayaalta.jpg (56683 bytes)This picture was taken at the top of Chirabaya Alta.  This is the oldest of the grave sites.  This is also the most looted area.  Chirabaya Alta has been looted for decades, not for the mummies, but for the ceramics.  They sell the ceramics on the black market or to tourists who are uncertain of what they are buying.  Anything you see in this picture that is white is bone.  You could not take a step without stepping on pottery, bones, or ancient artifacts.


These pictures are of a historical archeological site east of Centro Mallqui.  They show howwebhistsite3.jpg (47122 bytes) people lived in Peru at the turn of the 20th century. webhistsite1.jpg, webhistsite2.jpg, webhistsite4.jpg


These pictures were taken at Sonia’s museum in Centro Mallqui.  These are all the pots found within the region surrounding Centro Mallqui.  
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This is a piece of woven material (textile) in Sonia’s museum.  It is amazing the details that these people from long ago put in their work. /fabric / This picture of what the chirabaya may have looked like was also in the museum.  This shows the art of Trephination, releasing pressure from the brain.  They used obsidian to cut open the skull and release blood. 


This picture was taken in Ilo.  It is a picture of a mausoleum.  Their bodies are taken out afterwebmosoleum.jpg (46079 bytes) one year of burial and a viewing of the body takes place.  Then the body is reburied, as long as the families come up with the monthly rent, for the mausoleum. Otherwise, the body is cremated.  As you can see, there are many people that came to pay tribute to the dead.  There are many different types of offering.  Anything from dolls to pictures, usually symbols of the deceased life they left behind.

  After we stayed in Ilo for a little over a week, we flew back to Lima to spend the remaining few days.  Lima is a major metropolitan city.  The population is over 10 million and is just like a huge city in the United States, except everything is in Spanish.  They have Senor Frogs, Hard Rock Café, museums, and most places have English language written under the Spanish.

weblima1.jpg (45990 bytes) This is a picture of the St. Francisco Cathedral.  We took a tour of the entire cathedral, which is still inhabited by monks.  Underneath the cathedral is a maze of tunnels.  In one section, there were better than a hundred remains of past monks.  When the monks would die, their bodies were laid in a bath of acid.  After a period of time, the only remains left were the major long bones (femur, humerus, tibia, fibula) and the skulls.  All of the bones were collected and placed in this pit over 30 feet deep. 

weblima2.jpg (23875 bytes)

These are two group photos of the people on our dig.  The young lady in the blue beside me inwebsocialevent.jpg (25829 bytes) Sonia.  Jerry and Shar are the two at the far end of the table (the woman in blue and black and the man with the gray striped shirt).
Group Photo


I want to thank Jerry, Shar, Dr. Guillen, and Dr. Allison for putting up with me, and for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a great experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.  I also want to thank Rick for introducing me to these people and getting me on the track and preparing me for the obstacles that lay before me.



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This page was last updated on August 10, 2005