Old Beliefs Die Hard

The Inca are one of the most well known pre-Columbian societies of South America. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of Inca culture, extending from 1476 to 1634 B.C., is their funerary rituals, including mummification (Cockburn and Cockburn 143). Unlike the Chinchorro mummification, Inca mummification was restricted to those of high social ranks, including kings and clan leaders and high nobles. Lower status members of society were simply buried, with little mortuary treatment. The Inca Empire ranged over a vast territory, and the  mummification practices varied from region to region.

In the central highlands (Condesuyo), the deceased were placed in a burial tower or sepulcher. The body was eviscerated, and balsamic substances were added to aid in preserving the body (Cockburn and Cockburn 145). The mummification process in the lowlands and coastal regions (Yungas) was slightly more complex. The organs and the flesh were not always removed, but when the flesh was taken off the body, it was buried next to the dead in ceramic vessels. The bodies themselves were covered in a cotton shroud and wrapped in cloth and ropes, forming a “mummy bundle.” The upper portion of the bundle was painted and decorated to suggest a face, suggesting that they played some societal role after death. Until the final burial, the mummies were displayed in their monumental sepulcher and participated actively in the lives of the living. The Inca were eventually buried with several grave goods, including clothing, food, and ornamentation (Cockburn and Cockburn 145).

Check out this link for a video showing the details of a mummy bundle!


Like the Chinchorro, the Inca mummies (especially the kings) did not cease to participate in the lives of the living after their deaths. For example, the mummies of kings were cared for by the royal family; they were fed, clothed, and involved in other daily activities. Furthermore, the Inca mummies were repeatedly brought to festivals and ritual events where they take part in their own mortuary cult. This suggests that the Inca elite did not truly die upon their biological death. Similar to Chinchorro culture, the lives of Inca mummies extended past that point, and they continued to participate in Inca culture.

Like the Chinchorro, Inca mummies were perhaps worshiped as ancestors, or huacas. Huacas were essentially just sacred things, including anything from mountains, to pottery, to the bodies of rulers. They were venerated for their associations with fertility and their power to regenerate life. The surviving Inca community communicated with various huacas through prayers and offered dedicatory offerings to ask for assistance or advice. Archaeological evidence of offerings and sacrifices found on mountains known to be huacas supports this claim (Ceruti and Reinhard 2). In this way, although beliefs about an afterlife might have been at play, the Inca mummies were more for the aid of the living than  an attempt at immortality for the deceased.

Some scholars also believe that the production of not only Inca mummies, but also Andean mummies before them, was in part brought about by both economic and political factors. “Based on present evidence, one can tentatively state that religious cults and magical motives, some clearly derived from political and economic contexts, were all contributing factors in Andean mummification practices,” (Cockburn and Cockburn 154). Mummies of royalty and elite members of society could have been displayed not solely for religious purposes, but also as signs of the lasting power of the society. They also would have justified those elites or royals in their positions; if they could trace their lineage to these visible, public ‘ living monuments’, they were worthy of their position in that society. Since the Chinchorro had a much simpler society, in this way, the two types of mummies differ. However, we know so little about the Chinchorro culture, we cannot completely rule out the idea that their mummies had some economic role or motivation behind them.

It can be speculated that as the Inca Empire was expanding, it incorporated the beliefs and practices of conquered people. As Richard Latcham states in “Atacameño Archaeology,” “old beliefs die hard” (Latcham 609). Although the Chinchoro were a much simpler and older society than the Inca, their burial practices did not completely disappear with their culture. Very similar mortuary practices can be seen in the Atacameño people, who inhabited the northern part of Chile slightly after the time of the Chinchorro (Latcham 612). In a manner strikingly similar to the Chinchorro, “the [Atacameño] mummies were wrapped in skins of animals and sea birds,” in an extended position. Latcham traces these mummification practices from the Atacameño directly to the Inca (1936). Given the similarities between the mummies of the Chinchorro and the Atacameño peoples, in addition to the remarkably parallel mortuary rituals between the Chinchorro and the Inca, it is highly likely that the Inca mummification practices and rituals were influenced, at least in part, by the Chinchorro.


Ceruti and Reinhard (2005). “Sacred mountains, ceremonial sites, and human sacrifice among the Incas.” In Arcaeoastonomy: the journal of astronomy in culture (University of Texas Press).

Latcham (1936). “Atacameno Archaeology.” In The American Anthropologist (38.4: 609-619).

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The Aleutian Islands and the Atacama Desert

The Aleut people reside in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. They called themselves Unangan, but the Russians, arriving in the area in the 1740’s, bestowed the name Aleut upon them. Like the Chinchorro, the Aleut people went to great lengths to preserve their dead. The specific mummification techniques varied slightly from group to group within the culture, but general trends can be observed. First, the bodies were eviscerated and the central cavity was stuffed with dried grass. They next put the body into a running stream, which apparently dissolved the fat of the body, leaving merely muscle and skin. Then, the body was dried by exposing it to the air for an extended period of time, while tied in a flexed position. Occasionally fire may have been used to help in the drying process. After the drying was complete, the body was wrapped in fur, mats, and bird skin, and placed in a cave or other rock shelter, resting on a wooden shelf-like platform.

In the case of the Aleutians, we have some helpful ethnographic data which can help us determine the purpose of mummification and their beliefs about it. Their belief system included, “a concept of continuation of power in the dead, and that such power could be exploited,” (Aufderheide, 78). The spirit could effectively be ‘sealed in’ to a family member’s body through the process of mummification. Mummies were thAleutian Mummy being exhumeden used by the living as sources of advice; they were thought to give aid in hunting and fishing and to protect from enemies, among other things. Such mummy ‘consultations’ were in effect in the Aleutian culture as recently as 1862, as documented by Russian orthodox priests. Mummies were also sometimes taken apart, so that small parts of them (such as a finger) could be taken on hunts to guarantee safety and success. In the case of Aleutian mummies, the techniques used were determined according to the social status of the deceased. Is it possible that different members of the society (such as tribal leaders and hunters) had a different or stronger spiritual power and thus had to be preserved in a different way?

            Some scholars believe the Aleutian funerary practice was a product of their “pragmatically oriented culture,” (Cockburn, 125). This argument is founded upon the fact that the Aleuts had a particular interest in the anatomy of humans; they performed autopsies on their dead and studied the anatomy of animals such as the sea otter comparatively. 

            The Aleutian mummies might be able to help us understand the beliefs behind the Chinchorro practices. Both cultures used some sort of natural mummification process combined with artificial techniques to create the mummies. Both cultures removed the organs of the dead and replaced them with dried grass. In the previous blog, we suggested that the Chinchorro people, who had a strong connection to their natural surroundings, used certain materials to represent their surroundings as they returned the body to the earth. Both the Aleutian and Chinchorro mummies were mummified with natural materials, including grass and animal skin. This shows a strong connection to the natural surroundings as well. The Aleut people also used their mummies  after the mummification process was complete, similar to evidence shown by the Chinchorro mummies (wear, tear, and repair). The Aleut mummies, according to the Russian priests, were used as a sort of protective talisman; they could be disassembled and used as protection on hunts. While we are pretty sure that the Chinchorro mummies were never disassembled and used in such a manner, we do know that they were used after mummification, perhaps as guardians or protective talismans as well. One significant difference between the Aleutian and Chinchorro mummies is the “sealing” of the body. The Chinchorro left the mouth open, perhaps as an opening for receiving food or a method of speaking. The Aleut people sealed off the body in an effort to keep the spirit of the body. Perhaps the Chinchorro, like the Aleut people, believed in the continuation of power among the dead, but chose to show it in a different manner.


[citation: Aufderheide, Arthur C. (2003). The Scientific Study of Mummies. Cambridge University Press. 77-79.

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Japanese Mummies

In Japan, the practice of mummification was an old custom beginning around 774 AD and enduring into the early 20th century. Unlike in the case of the Chinchorro, mummification in Japan was an exclusive practice only performed on certain priests. The only exceptions to this are the mummies of a powerful clan from the 12th century: the Fujiwara family.  The map to the right shows the locations of the 19 mummies still in existence in Japan.  With the exception of the Fujiwara family mummies, all of the Japanese mummies are of Buddhist priests who “achieved mummification through their own volition, even though other priests had to assist the process of transformation,” (Sakurai, 1980, pp. 215). The Japanese priest mummies, also known as the Sokushinbutsu, did not have their internal organs removed when they were mummified. The priests would gradually reduce their intake of

nutrition over a long period of time so that their body’s constitution would be altered in such a way that it would be resilient to decomposition. Thus, the process of mummification actually began during the lives of the priests. When a priest who wanted to achieve mummification died, the body would be interred in an underground stone chamber for 3 years (see left), after which it would be exhumed and dried. After this process, the body would be set out in the temple in which the priest had resided as a shrine to which people could come visit and pray.  Several of the existing mummies have been researched and tested  for the collection of data. The cause of their deaths was starvation caused either by asceticism (a process of self-immolation) or illness caused by asceticism. The brain and viscera of the priests were not removed. They were often mummified in a sitting position with their legs crossed, their backs hunched forward, and their arms bent forward in a gesture of prayer(the image to the right exhibits this bodily position in an X-ray taken of the mummy of Enmyōkai Shōnin).

In one rather poorly preserved mummy, the hands were clasped in a prayer-like gesture and then tied together with string to ensure this position remained permanent (see left). The mummy of Chūkai Shōnin was reinforced with a board to keep it in a sitting position, and the left arm was reinforced with a piece of wood to keep it “forward and holding a bamboo stick,” (Sakurai, 1980, pp. 218). The priest’s clothed body had probably been tied in this position to ensure that it did not collapse forward during the mummification process.

This mummy was partially painted black on its face and lips (see right). The best-preserved example of a  Sokushinbutsu is the mummy of Tetsumonkai

(see left)who died during the course of his ascetics in 1868. He was buried for the three year period, but when he was exhumed the other priests embalmed him; thus, unlike the other priest mummies, Tetsumonkai did have his internal organs removed. His abdomen was packed with lime powder and then sewn up with thread. This mummy has served to prove to scholars that Japanese mummification was, in fact, artificial mummification rather than natural mummification (a debate that had raged for years before the discovery of this mummy).

Unlike with many civilizations that practiced mummification, including the Chinchorro, we know the thought process and beliefs behind the mummification practice. According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya, the successor of Sakyamuni Buddha, will come to this world exactly 5,670,000,000 years after Sakyamuni’s attainment of Nirvana. Maitreya is responsible for the “salvation of all sentient beings” (Calder, Mummies, Disease, and Ancient Cultures). In order to assist Maitreya in accomplishing this feat, the priests waited for his coming in their earthly form, as preserved mummies.  When viewed in this light, it is almost as though these Japanese priests practiced altruistic suicide. Their death was an excruciatingly long and painful process, the last few years of their life essentially consisting of dehydration and starvation. And although many of these mummies were eventually enshrined and worshiped as gods, it is likely that the priests did this not for themselves but for the other followers of Buddhism. Not only would the priests be available during the coming of Maitreya to help save mankind, but many temples also claimed that the priests believed that their deaths would alleviate the sufferings of the people. Furthermore, this mummification practice was certainly not always successful. The body, buried for over three years before being exhumed for worship, would often deteriorate, indicating that the priest had failed to become Sokushinbutsu. If this were the case, the body would be immediately reburied, and the priest would never be worshiped. This fact further stresses that the priests were not doing this for their own longevity and prospects of being a deity. They apparently truly believed in their altruistic sacrifice.

The Sokushinbutsu monks self-mummified themselves for spiritual reasons: they hoped to achieve enlightenment through the art of mummification. The Buddhist monks underwent the difficult and torturous self-mummification process to become a form of Buddha. If the monk was successfully mummified at the end of the process, he was considered to have reached enlightenment, and placed on display after a three-year burial period. The organs were kept inside the mummy so he would be able to be resurrected when Buddha returned in the far-off future. In a sense, the monk’s bodies are in a process of “sticking around” before the next stage of death. Their process of self-mummification creates a liminal stage between actual death and a return to life.

While we do not have evidence or explanations for the ritual practices of the Chinchorro mummies, we can speculate as to the origins of their mummification process. As we’ve discussed in class, people are mentally and emotionally attached to the land that they live on. The Chinchorro, who lived in an area of stark contrasts, could have noticed that life flourished in the wet marshlands near the shore of the Atacama Desert, and death lorded over the dry region surrounding those small pockets of oasis. In addition, the Pacific Ocean, on which the Chinchorro depended upon for resources, lay just off the coast of the area where they lived. It is possible, but not provable, that the Chinchorro had some sort of symbolic belief in which they linked the wet and dry parts of their bodies to the land. We know that the Chinchorro eventually buried their dried-out mummies in desert cliffs. What we do not know is why. Perhaps the soft tissue of the body that was removed during the mummification process was deposited either in the wetlands or the ocean, while the dry parts of the body were buried in the desert. This could symbolize returning the body to the Earth.

The dark areas in between the mountains and the ocean are wetlands surrounded by desert.


Calder, Angela and Graeme Pretty. 1980. “Mummification in Australia and Melanesia,” in Mummies, Disease, and Ancient Cultures. (U.K.: Cambridge University Press).

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Painting the Dead

As discussed in our previous post, the Chinchorro mummies were most likely put on display for the living to see and probably interact with. The Chinchorro, however, were not the only people to do this. Other mummies from more recent time periods were also exhibited publicly and were meaningful to the living. For example, the Ch’an Masters (priests) of medieval China were mummified and idolized. The practice of preserving the bodies of important priests began during the Chin Dynasty in 266 CE and continues today. The rituals performed on the bodies of the Ch’an Masters included removal of the intestines, anointing the body, and decorating the body with gold chips. These mummies sometimes became the central focus of local cults, and were seen as holy and spiritually pure because their body did not decay. Thus, their role in life (to remain physically and mentally pure) was reflected in their mortuary treatment. This form of artificial mummification was “thought of as a means to preserve the remains of Buddhist priests whose innate spiritual purity was such that their bodies did not decompose after death,” (Sharf 1992: 9). Some of these preserved monks were worshiped as “flesh icons.” This example, like the Chinchorro, shows that some mummies were made as much for the living as they were for the dead. In this case, the priests were mummified to preserve and reflect their pure state, but they were also used by the living in cults. Like the Chinchorro, the Ch’an Masters were transformed from mere bodies into forms of ritual art that were both displayed and used.

Head of Red Mummy
Red Chinchorro Mummy Head

One facet of this transformation involves the treatment and the decoration of the body of the deceased. It is important to note that the living control this process, imbuing corpses with new social identities. As scholars of mortuary practices suggest, “the body, sacred in life, is profane in death. The dead body lacks health, vitality, and beauty, its erstwhile owner having once and for all lost control over its presentation and individuality,” (Hallam, Hockey, and Howarth 1999: 131-2). Therefore, the living take control of the presentation of corpses. The living have the power to restore health, vitality and beauty to the dead. Painting of the dead bodies is often one significant aspect of restoring this vitality.

 As mentioned in our previous “Basics” blog, Chinchorro mummies were painted black or red, and in a few cases were covered in mud. There was little overlap in this particular mortuary treatment; mummies were painted black from 5,000 – 3,000 BCE, while mummies were painted red sometime between 3,000 and 2,000 BCE. The few mud-coated mummies were from the first half of the 2nd century BCE. However, there are a few exceptions to this standard. There was one case in which a mummy was painted both black with red and yellow stripes on his torso and arms.


Trunk of Black Mummy. In the case of the Chinchorro mummies, painting the bodies was one way in which the living attempted to revitalize and regenerate the dead.

Depiction of Striped Chinchorro Mummy

Painting of the deceased or their mummies is certainly not a practice unique to the Chinchorro. Similar painted mummies have also been found from Melanesian cultures. In Torres Strait, for example, bodies of the dead would be set outside for a few days; they would be placed on raised platforms with fires below them in order for the bodies to be dried out. After the body was dried, the skin and internal organs would be removed, and the internal cavity would be filled with natural fibers. Then the body was “latched to a rectangular wooden framework and hung up to dry behind a grass screen” (Pretty and Calder 1980: 200). After several months of drying, the mummy would be adorned with shells, grass, and palm fronds. Finally, the body would be painted in red ochre. After this process was complete, the decorated mummy, “on its frame,” would be hung in the surviving spouse’s house until it finally crumbled. Similar traditions can be found in various other tribal cultures in and around Melanesia.

We can only speculate about the motivations leading to the painting of mummies in these cultures. Mario Rivera, an expert on Chinchorro mummies, postulates that the high frequency of red pigment indicates “an emphasis on fertility and possibly life after death” (Rivera 1995: 63). This speculation could hold true for the Melanesian mummies as well. Rivera speculates that the cross-cultural use of red pigment to paint mummies could be representative of blood; therefore, the painting of the Chinchorro mummies and the Melanesian mummies could be an attempt of the living to restore vitality to the dead. Bernardo Arriaza offers similar interpretations, also associating the color red with blod, as well as life in the world of the living and the“afterworld.” There is less evidence from other cultures about the use of black paint during the process of mummification, but Arriaza suggests that “black is equated with darkness, like the night, invisible yet present. Black is what is hidden, it is a mystical transition” (Arriaza 1970:120). He further interprets that black is a symbol of death, but not the “end of a cycle.” It shows a transition from one state to the next. The brown color of the mud covered mummies may represent a return to the earth.

Chinchorro Black Mummy Skeleton

The painting of mummies and other related mortuary treatments indicates that while the Chinchorro were a relatively simple society, they had a complex ideology relating to death. For both the Chinchorro and the Melanesians, the use of these techniques to decorate and treat the body may represent the living’s attempts to restore the lost “health, vitality, and beauty” to the dead. This regeneration of a social identity could have been aimed towards helping the deceased to become more alive in death, or perhaps it was a way for the living to view their deceased friends and relatives in a less profane light. Restoring this new life might have been a way for the dead to remain among the living for a little longer.


Arriaza, Bernardo. 1995. Beyond Death: The Chinchorro Mummies of Ancient Chile. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press).

Aufderheide, Arthur C. 2003. The Scientific Study of Mummies. (U.K.: Cambridge University Press).

Calder, Angela and Graeme Pretty. 1980. “Mummification in Australia and Melanesia,” in Mummies, Disease, and Ancient Cultures. (U.K.: Cambridge University Press).

Hallam, Elizabeth; Hockey, Jenny and Glennys Howarth. 1999. Death and Social Identity. (London, England: Routledge Press).

Rivera, Mario. 1995. “The Pre-Ceramic Chinchorro Complex of Northern Chile: Context, Style, and Purpose.”

Sharf, Robert H. 1992. “The Idolization of Enlightenment: On the Mummification of Ch’an Masters in Medieval China.” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

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Chinchorro Mummies as Religious Art

There are many ways to preserve a body.  In fact, in many environments, mere burial would provide natural mummification. The Chinchorro people are clearly going above and beyond just preservation.  After all, they lived in the desert; the dry sand would do the job naturally if they wanted.

For example, a part of Chinchorro ritual is taking out human internal organs and soft tissue and replacing them with hair, vegetable fibers, clay, and fur, to name a few.  None of this is necessary to preserve a body. This leads many to question why they are taking these extreme measures? Why take away so much of the  human element to replace it with other materials?

One explanation for this behavior is that the Chinchorro people were not trying to preserve the body in it’s physical state, but perhaps trying to mold and transform the actual bodies

into something else– something more in the form of art. In mummification, bodies were taken apart, then reassembled and decorated with ash paste and color. The mummies were also adorned with wigs and sometimes masks. Clearly, the visual aspect of these creations was important. Bernardo Arriaza, a scholar of physical anthropology, explores the idea of the mummies as ritual art in his article, “Making the Dead Beautiful: Mummies as Art” (http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/chinchorro/). Specifically, Arriaza cites “the plasticity of their shapes, colors, and the mixed media used in their creation,” as indicators of their function as art. Arriaza sees the mummies as “statues, the encased skeletons of departed ones.” In this way, we can view the Chinchorro mummies as a form of “ritual art,” which can be generally defined as symbolic objects with spiritual meaning.

One important aspect of these mummies to note is that they were not merely objects on display. Arriaza mentions that there was a significant amount of “wear and tear” endured by these mummies. These were functional objects, probably ritual in nature, which the Chinchorro people actively used. The true use of these mummies is a topic of debate. Arriaza suggested in his article that these could have been enshrined, either domestically or communally. The only problem with this assertion is that the mummies probably were not only enshrined. The amount of damage and maintenance done

to these ritual objects seems to imply more activity. Arriaza also suggests that these mummies were used in processions. Not only were the mummies functioning ritual objects, they were portable pieces of art. This explanation could account for the “wear and tear”, but what follows is the question of why. Why were the dead mummified and perhaps carried in processions? We have mentioned that the Chinchorro were non-discriminatory in their mummification; everyone could undergo this mortuary treatment, regardless of sex, age, social status, etc. Were all of the mummies, then, used to the same extent? Were the processions for all the dead?

Nevertheless, it seems likely that the mummies were seen as temporary pieces of ritual art. While they were once used or displayed, they were not excavated in these contexts. Rather, the mummies were discovered in fairly simple and unremarkable burials. Arriaza asserts that in these burials there were few burial goods. These were not elaborate displays of wealth, and there does not seem to be a need to supply the dead with everything he or she will need in the afterlife. The Chinchorro were probably not focused on solely preparing their dead for the afterlife, but rather preserving them for their ritual role amongst the living.

Perhaps the period in which the mummies were “active” was the transitional period in which the soul of the deceased is still around. Arnold Van Gennep, an early ethnographer, explained such transitional periods in his work The Rites of Passage. Van Gennep outlined three phases of rites of passage: separation, transition, and re-incorporation. The dead are separated from the living in death. The transitional period is the time in which the

deceased are transformed into mummies and kept on display or used for various ritual purposes. This time might also have been seen as the time during which the souls were traveling to the next world. Because the burials were not individual but communal (usually 4-6 related individuals), the act of burying the mummies could have served as a sort of re-incorporation into a new community of the ancestors (other mummies). According to this theory, once the ritual art of the mummy is no longer in use, when the soul moves on to another existence, the body is buried in a relatively simple manner.

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Chinchorro Mummies: The Basics

When you think about mummification, what do you think about? Ancient Egypt? King Tut? The discoverey of treasure filled tombs? If so, congratulations. You are probably among 99% of Americans (yes, I made that statistic up– but you get the general idea). The Egyptians, however, were not the only society to practice mummification, nor were they the first. In fact, it was a relatively limited phenomenon within their society.

Have you ever heard of the Chinchorro mummies? Unless you are a student of ancient cultures, probably not.

The Chinchorros were a maritime society that occupied the coastline of southern Peru and northern Chile from around 7020 to 1110 BC. This society produced the first known synthetic mummification system in the world, coming into practice around 5050 BC and continuing until about 1720 BC, (around 2,000 years before the oldest known Egyptian mummy, Ginger, picutred below).


Additionally, the Chinchorro were one of the few societies that mummified people of all ages and statuses—even fetuses. This is significant for two reasons: first, few other societies practiced mummification on all their dead (the Egyptians only mummified people of great social significance, including pharaohs, priests, and nobles); and second, the Chinchorro inadvertently left us a plethora of evidence for this practice (nearly 300 Chinchorro mummies have been excavated, and hundreds more probably still remain to be found).

Mummified Baby

The Chinchorro were distinct not only in their widespread use of mummification,  but also in their methods.  The process we tend to associate with mummification is strictly Egyptian. We typically think of organs being removed, brains being pulled out through the nasal cavity, and bodies being wrapped in linens.

For the full details on the Egyptian procedure, see: 

However, the mummification processes of the Chinchorros were vastly different. The Chinchorro produced several different kinds of mummies: Red, Black, Bandage, Mud-Coated, and Natural. This is how each was made:

Black (5000-3000 BC): The skin and organs were removed; the skeleton was cleaned and fortified; the body was reformed using clay; the skin (either of the deceased or another animal, such as a sea lion) was reattached; and the head was reconnected to the body and decorated with a face mask and a wig of black human hair. Finally, the entire body was painted a blue-black tint (For an image of a Black mummy, see: http://www.momiaschinchorro.cl/en/en/mummieseng?start=1 ).

Red (2500-2000 BC): The organs and muscle tissue were removed; the body was dried and reinforced with wood; the body was refilled with feathers and clay; the brain was removed and the head filled and topped with a black wig; the incisions were then closed and the body was painted (excluding the face) a red color (For an image of a Red mummy, see: http://www.momiaschinchorro.cl/en/en/mummieseng?start=2 ).

Bandaged (2500-2000 BC): The body was treated in the same manner as the Red mummies, differing in the fact that the skin was cut and wrapped around the body like bandages (For an image of a Bandaged mummy, see: http://www.momiaschinchorro.cl/en/en/mummieseng?start=3 .)

Mud-Coated (2500-2000B.C.): The body was covered in a layer of mud.

So, now that we all have a general knowledge of the Chinchorro mummies, some questions to ponder: Why was the practice of mummification a society-wide phenomenon among the Chinchorro people? Why was so much care given to each person in this society? What rituals were involved in these processes? What were the beliefs surrounding these practices? Basically, why do these mummies exist?

Our sources:

1)      http://www.jstor.org/stable/971599?&Search=yes&term=mummies&term=chinchorro&list=hide&searchUri=/action/doBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dchinchorro%2Bmummies%26gw%3Djtx%26acc%3Don%26prq%3Dchinchurro%2Bmummies%26hp%3D25%26wc%3Don&item=1&ttl=53&returnArticleService=showFullText

2)      http://www.momiaschinchorro.cl/en/en/cultureeng

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