The mummies of
the Chinchorros have
been found along the Pacific coast near
the border of present-day Peru and Chile. The Chinchorros
may have been the first people to practice mummification.
They preserved their dead beginning about 5000 B.C. Around the
time they reached their peak in 3000 B.C., the Egyptians began
experimenting with mummification.
The methods used by the
Chinchorros were quite different from those of the Egyptians. They
made three types of mummies. The two most common methods were the
black mummies and the red Mummies.
The black mummies were
about 5000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. the
dead person's body was taken apart, treated, and reassembled.
The head, arms, legs and skin were removed. The body was heat-dried,
and the flesh and tissue were completely stripped from the bone. The
skull was cut in half and the brain was removed. Then skull was
dried, packed with material and tied back together.
Morticians then put the
body back together. They strengthened the limbs and spinal column
by inserting sticks under the skin and packed the body with clay
and feathers, then reattached the skull. The body
was covered with a white ash paste and the skin was
refitted on the body. Finally the body was painted
with manganese giving it a black color.
The red mummies, from
about 2500 BC to 2000 BC, were made by
a completely different method. Instead of disassembling
the body, they made many incisions in the trunk and shoulders
to remove internal organs and dry the body cavity. They cut the
head off so they could remove the brain.
the body with various materials using sticks to strengthen it,
and then sewed up the incisions. They placed the head back on the
body and made a wig from tassels of human hair. A black clay "hat"
held the wig in place. Everything was then painted with red
Peruvian Ice Mummies