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Holiday Travel in Chile Year Old Mummies

Chile is renowned for its inspiring and romantic landscapes that vary so dramatically from Patagonia to the Atacama Desert. It is this beautiful wilderness of lakes, volcanoes, forests and deserts that lures most people who travel to Chile on holiday. But off the well travelled tour routes of Torres del Paine and San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is full of scarcely visited natural wonders and fascinating archaeological sites. A good example is that of the Chinchorro mummies of the Atacama, the oldest mummies in the world, predating their Egyptian counter parts by 2000 years!.

The Chinchorro were a coastal dwelling people of northern Chile and southern Peru, who started mummifying their dead at least 7000 years ago. The mummification methods used by the Chinchorro changed over the millennia, becoming less complicated with time. The oldest mummies found, dating from 5000BC to 3000BC, were made with a method referred to as the black method.

The black method involved dismembering the deceased - the head, arms and legs were severed from the torso, then the skin was removed. The body was then dried, before the flesh and tissue were stripped from the bone, including the removal of the brain. The body would then be reassembled ? the bones were strengthened with splints, the body was stuffed with materials including clay and feathers, then the limbs and head would be reattached to the torso.

The whole body was then covered in an ash paste which was also used to patch up joins and damaged areas of the skin. In the last stage of this elaborate procedure a final layer of manganese was painted over the ash paste, giving the mummy the black colour characteristic of the process.The leading authority on Chinchorro mummies, Bernardo Arriaza, says about 282 Chinchorro mummies have been discovered to date. An interesting fact about the Chinchorro is that not only are they the oldest mummies ever discovered, but that they didn't reserve this ceremony for great leaders and kings. It seems that they mummified all their dead.The best place to see and learn about the Chinchorro is the Archaeology Museum of San Miguel de Azapa at the University of Tarapacá in Chile.

Optimundo, a specialist travel company can arrange private tours to this and many other off the beaten track destinations in Chile and Argentina.

.Andrew Chaundler worked and travelled in South America for many years before setting up Optimundo, a travel company that specialises in holidays in Chile and holidays in Argentina that have been designed with expert knowledge of the region.

Visit our site to find out about out tailor-made travel services.

By: Andrew Chaundler

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