Living with the world’s oldest mummies

It may feel strange for some people to live on top of a graveyard, but we are used to it,”says Ana María Nieto, who lives in the Chilean harborage megacity of Arica.

Arica, on the border with Peru, is erected on the flaxen stacks of the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world.
But long before the littoral city was innovated in the 16th Century, this area was home to the Chinchorro people.

Their culture hit the news in July when the United Nations’ artistic organisation, Unesco, added hundreds of corpses saved by them to its World Heritage List.
The Chinchorro corpses were first proved in 1917 by German Archaeologist Max Uhle, who had plant some of the saved bodies on a sand. But it took decades of exploration to determine their age.

Radiocarbon dating ultimately showed that the corpses were further than times old-further than two glories aged than the further extensively known Egyptian corpses.
Pre-ceramic culture that lasted from to BC
. Sedentary fishermen and huntsman-gatherers
That makes the Chinchorro corpses the oldest known archaeological substantiation of instinctively crested bodies.
Anthropologist Bernardo Arriaza, an expert on the Chinchorro, says they rehearsed purposeful mummification. That means they used mortuary practices to conserve the bodies rather than leave them to naturally develop in the dry climate-although some naturally crested bodies have also been plant at the spots.

Small lacerations would be made to a body, the organs taken out and the depressions dried while the skin was ripped off, Mr Arriaza explains.
The Chinchorro people would also stuff the body with natural fibres and sticks to keep it straight before using doormats to suture the skin back on.

They would also attach thick black hair onto the corpus’s head and cover its face with complexion and a mask with openings for the eyes and mouth.
Eventually, the body was painted in a distinctive red or black colour using colors from minerals, ochre, manganese and iron oxide.

The Chinchorro’s styles and approach to mummification differed markedly from that of the Egyptians, Mr Arriaza says.
Not only did the Egyptians use canvas and tapes, mummification was also reserved for departed members of the elite whereas the Chinchorro mummified men, women, children, babies and indeed foetuses anyhow of their status.

With hundreds of corpses plant in Arica and other spots over the once century, locals learned to live alongside-and frequently on top of-the remains.
Discovering Mortal remains during structure workshop or having your canine whiff out and dig up corridor of a corpus is commodity generations of locals have endured. But for a long time they didn’t realise just how significant these remains were.

” Occasionally the residers tell us stories about how the children used the craniums for footballs and took the apparel off the corpses, but now they know to report back to us when they find commodity, and to leave it alone,”archaeologist Janinna Campos Fuentes says.
Locals Ana María Nieto and Paola Pimentel are thrilled that Unesco has recognised the significance of the Chinchorro culture.

The women lead neighbour associations near two of the excavation spots and have been working nearly with a group of scientists from the original Tarapacá University to help the community understand the significance of the Chinchorro Culture and to make sure the precious spots are looked after.
There are plans for a neighbourhood gallery-where rows of Chinchorro remains taradiddle underre-enforced glass for callers to peer at-to get a new interactive extension. The idea is to train locals as attendants so they can show off their heritage to others.

Presently, only a bitsy part of the further than 300 or so Chinchorro corpses are on display. Utmost of them are housed at the San Miguel de Azarpa Archaeological Museum.
The gallery, which is possessed and run by Tarapacá University, is a 30- nanosecond drive from Arica and has emotional displays showing the mummification process.

A larger gallery is being planned on the point to house further of the corpses but finances are also demanded to insure they’re rightly saved so they don’t deteriorate.
Mr Arriaza and archaeologist Jannina Campos are also induced that Arica and the girding hills still hold numerous treasures that have yet to be discovered. But, more coffers are demanded to find them.

The mayor, Gerardo Espindola Rojas, hopes the addition of the corpses to the World Heritage List will boost tourism and attract fresh finances.
But he’s aware that any development should be done in the right way, working with the community and securing the spots.

“Unlike Rome that sits on monuments, the people of Arica are living on top of mortal remains and we need to cover the corpses.”
Civic planning laws are in place and archaeologists are present whenever structure workshop are carried out, he says, to make sure the precious remains aren’t disturbed.

Mayor Espindola is also adamant that unlike in some other corridor of Chile, where stint drivers and transnational companies have bought up land to reap profit from sightseer sights, Arica’s heritage should remain in the hands of its people and profit the original community.
Neighbourhood association chairman Ana Maria Prieto is positive the newfound fame of the corpses will work in everyone’s favour.

“This is a small city, but a friendly bone. We want excursionists and scientists from each over the world to come and learn about the inconceivable Chinchorro Culture that we have been living with all our life.”
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