Archaeologists in Chile race to preserve world’s oldest mummies

by | Jul 6, 2024 | Science

The world’s oldest mummies have been around longer than the mummified pharaohs of Egypt and their ornate tombs — but the ravages of time, human development and climate change are putting these relics at risk.Chile’s Atacama Desert was once home to the Chincorro people, an ancient population that began mummifying their dead 5,000 years ago, two millennia before the Egyptians did, according to Bernando Arriaza, a professor at the University of Tarapaca.The arid desert has preserved mummified remains and other clues in the environment that give archaeologists information about how the Chincorro people once lived.The idea to mummify bodies likely came from watching other remains naturally undergo the process amid the desert’s dry conditions. The mummified bodies were also decorated with reed blankets, clay masks, human hair and more, according to archaeologists.While UNESCO has designated the region as a World Heritage Site, the declaration may not save all of the relics. Multiple museums, including the Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum in the ancient city of Arica, put the Chincorro culture on display. Some mummies and other relics are safely ensconced in those climate-controlled exh …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnThe world’s oldest mummies have been around longer than the mummified pharaohs of Egypt and their ornate tombs — but the ravages of time, human development and climate change are putting these relics at risk.Chile’s Atacama Desert was once home to the Chincorro people, an ancient population that began mummifying their dead 5,000 years ago, two millennia before the Egyptians did, according to Bernando Arriaza, a professor at the University of Tarapaca.The arid desert has preserved mummified remains and other clues in the environment that give archaeologists information about how the Chincorro people once lived.The idea to mummify bodies likely came from watching other remains naturally undergo the process amid the desert’s dry conditions. The mummified bodies were also decorated with reed blankets, clay masks, human hair and more, according to archaeologists.While UNESCO has designated the region as a World Heritage Site, the declaration may not save all of the relics. Multiple museums, including the Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum in the ancient city of Arica, put the Chincorro culture on display. Some mummies and other relics are safely ensconced in those climate-controlled exh …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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