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Oldest Mummies in the World

Ratings: 5.33/10 from 12 users.


Oldest Mummies in the WorldWhen we think of famous mummies, our minds naturally turn to the legendary Valley of the Kings in Egypt, final resting place for the great Pharaohs and their queens. But where are the world’s oldest mummies? The answer: Chile!

Around 8,000 years ago, the little known fishing communities of the Chinchorro began mummifying their dead in a sophisticated process that belies their otherwise primitive ways. Without the signature elaborate pottery, jewelery or textiles so common in the grander Inca, Mayan and Toltec civilizations, these humble folk desiccated their deceased relatives in an elaborate process before burial in family "plots".

Celebrated Egyptologist, Dr Joann Fletcher, describes this most unusual ritual; "The Chinchorro began to 'rebuild' their dead, with bodies carefully defleshed and the skin, brain and internal organs removed. The bones were dried with hot ashes before the whole lot was then reassembled using twigs for reinforcement bound tightly with reeds.

Over this framework the skin was reapplied, and supplemented where needed with sea lion or pelican skin. A thick layer of ash paste was applied over the body and a stylized clay mask used to cover the face, painted with either black manganese or red ochre to give the mummies a rather clone-like, uniform appearance."

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20 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Anthony

    what a wonderfully sophisticated society of psychopathic cannibal's.

  2. karukus

    I concur

  3. JK

    Interesting documentary, I must confess I also thought the oldest mummies were from Egypt :(

  4. Connie

    Excelllant !

  5. David

    @Anthony LOL!

    I often wonder what people in the future will say about us!
    Very interesting Doco

  6. reg

    Isn't Antarctica the driest place on earth?

    Not a great way to start a doc

  7. Samusakis


    Maybe i terms of rain, in this case however I presume its all about the dryness of the soil.


    lol at how scientists paint the picture of the past, now Im not saying its deranged or something but in many ways its not without bias.

  8. ez2b12

    @ Reg

    No actually you are right, I looked it up on google. Heres what one site had to say: "The driest place on Earth are certain areas of Antarctica, especially the polar plateau, which receives little to no precipitation, and when it does occur, only in the form of fine ice crystals and no more than a few cm a year."

    And here is yet another: "The Atacama desert is not the driest place on earth. Antarctica is as it receives less than 2 inches of rain a year. In some places it has not rained for 2 million years."

    This was written sort of like a disclaimer at the bottom of as nat geo page about the Atacama. It went on to explain that the driest place on earth was a term used by climatolgists to talk of the Atacama desert and it stuck- even though Antartica was the actuall driest place on earth.

    Wow man, 2 million years with no rain- that is amazing to me. I wish i could see a documentary about these places in Anartica that are so dry, I bet that would be interesting- maybe short but interesting. You know short cause there is nothing alive thier to talk about I would imagine. surely not even bacteria could survive 2 million years in complete dry and bitter cold conditions? Does anyone know if there is life of some sort that finds its way in these places? Or is there a doc about this on site, Vlako?

  9. scorpyan

    This documentary provoked an idea. Perhaps these people started this ritual due to scavenging animals. If you have ever had a wild animal dig up a pet you have buried you might be able to see this. Perhaps it was emotional terrifying to witness a loved one being dug up by animals and this was their way to keep it from happening. That would be a totally different reason than the Egyptians I suppose. Any way, one reason I can't stand the thought of being buried, is being stuffed, which makes this a poor choice for a dinner-time movie, yet its food for thought..haha

  10. LisaP

    This was pretty good! A great way to kill some time and learn something fascinating and new :)

  11. gero2006

    Interesting to see the mummies but frustrating to see the slapdash excavation processes. Someone was shown shovelling up human remains with a trowel! Good grief!

    Was dismayed to hear some very self-indulgent and far-fetched interpretations of the evidence from Dr Joann Fletcher (attached to York University, UK but not exactly a serious academic - certainly not someone I am likely to take very seriously after watching this). None of which would have been tolerated at an academic conference so why impose on the credulity of the public?

    The comparison with Egyptian mummies was totally irrelevant. Comparision with Oceania would have been much more interesting. I regret the missed opportunity.

  12. akanksha

    but i really dont seem to get the point that : WHY do they preserve the bodies of the dead people and etc..... and that too for decades, like before BC !! WHY whats the use n whats the point ??

  13. Goodie9000

    I'm still not convinced cannibalism (100%) was the reason the bones were sliced in half...especially when we don"t have a team of expert anthropologists dissecting (as well as comparing the finding here with others) the details of these mummies..we're (west) also quick to infer some form of cannibalism when it comes to unexplained discoveries

  14. common sense

    1.) How can they infer that ALL people were mummified? Not logical at all. Just b/c they find adults and kids doesn't mean all people there were mummified.

    2.)They should not assume so much about the culture of such people. We don't know more than we know. Objectivity is lacking here...

  15. Marc Thomas

    Did they say all people? I missed that. Most of the jumps they are making are based on the cultures that came after.

  16. sknb

    Psychopathy is the absence of emotion and empathy.

    I highly doubt that this ritualized procedure was without emotion. In fact, I would say that it was probably heavily loaded with deep significance in their culture.

    It is very rude to call a whole culture psychopaths because you wouldn't do what they did.

    Please look up the book "The Psychopath Test" before you throw this word around.

    Have a good day.

  17. Guest

    loved this x

  18. Winston Smith

    as people take from nature and destroy life to prolong their own, many cultures have made note of this in many ways. For example, ancient Japanese hunters would leave the place at the head of the table in honor of the bear they were eating. The ancient Maya, including their kings and queens would shed their blood on paper and burn the papers. They also practiced human sacrifice. There are many good books on this subject im sure but I know of 'Sacrifice & Sacrament' by James,,and The Golden Bough by Frazer, -which is no on t sacrifice per se, but it does often touch upon. Naturally, -being a study of the history of ancient and 'primitive'magic and religion.

  19. arlene

    Any theory about why ancient people did what they did is just a theory. We do not really know. I am no expert, but since there are so many very young, and with crushed skulls and other evidence of violent death and the use of humans for a food source, it seems pretty likely that this was a culture where eating human flesh was normal, not extreme behavior at all. My guess is that the parts that do not make good food were wrapped up, reinforced and made part of the life of the living in order to prevent the ghosts of those who were killed for food from taking revenge against the living.

  20. the555hit

    can i just say.. Mummy Lazaro

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