A top Peruvian anthropologist said Friday that President Clinton's joke about the sex appeal of an Inca mummy was "tacky," and criticized the display of the mummy in Washington.
Other Peruvian scientists complained that the 500-year-old frozen mummy, known as the Ice Princess, was being used by Peru's president to bolster his image.Clinton joked during a political fund-raiser that the mummy was "good-looking" and if he were single he might ask her out. "That mummy looks better than I do on my worst days," he said.
Anthropologist Sonia Guillen said "obviously there's a lack of respect" in Clinton's remarks.
The shipment of the mummy to the United States and its display by the National Geographic Society has caused controversy in Peru, where a group of archaeologists and others tried to stop its departure.
"Maybe it would have been better if a man as public as Clinton had not handled the thing in such a tacky manner," Guillen said.
Guillen opposed shipping the mummy to the United States for fear it could be damaged.
Jaime Castillo Butters, an archaeologist and professor at Peru's prestigious Catholic University in Lima, said the mummy had not even been displayed in Peru yet.
"It isn't very appropriate to be exhibiting bodies of dead and extinct people from Peru in foreign countries," Castillo said.
He said at the very least the mummy should have been exhibited in Peru first.
The mummy is thought to be the best preserved body from the pre-Columbian era. Also called Juanita by Peruvian scientists, the 12- to 14-year-old girl apparently was killed by a powerful blow to the head 500 years ago and sacrificed to the gods atop 20,000-foot-high Mount Ampato.
The mummy went on display Tuesday after first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton received the remains, which were accompanied by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. A photo of them appeared on the front page of a Lima daily newspaper.
Peruvian historian Mariana Pease charged that the exhibition was being used politically by Fujimori "in a way that only gets credit for him, not the whole country."