The discoveries about the Chinchorro people are so impressive that UNESCO has included the mummies on the World Heritage List.
When it comes to the topic of “ancient mummies”, most people’s first reaction is to remember the great pharaohs of Egypt, buried in their sumptuous pyramids.
But what if we say that the oldest are found nearby, on the American continent, and that they are 7,000 years old?
According to a BBC report, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), it is in the Atacama Desert that “the oldest known archaeological evidence of artificial mummification of bodies” is found. For this reason, at the end of July this year, the body included the mummies and the place that houses them on the World Heritage List.
The chinchorros, as they are called, formed a hunter-gatherer society that lived in the region between the ports of Ilo, in Peru, and Antofagasta, in Chile, more than 7,000 years ago. There is still little information about them, but the researchers believe that they were organized in groups of 30 to 50 people, which would have some kinship relationship.
As they live in a territory rich in marine resources, the chinchorros have specialized in the practice of fishing, developing different tools for this purpose, such as an alzol made from cactus spines and harpoon points. Other instruments were made with bones and shells.
As a result, the chinchorros were able to build semi-permanent settlements at the mouths of rivers and streams in the Atacama region.
In addition to this material culture, there is yet another evidence that indicates the daily interaction of this civilization with the waters: the tumors found in the ears of the mummies. According to the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, the theory is that these tumors are the cause of deep-sea diving.