In addition to ancient Egypt, many other cultures around the world have traditions of mummifying the dead, such as the Chinese, the ancient peoples of the Canary Islands, the Guanches, and many pre-Colombian societies in South America. , including the Inca civilization. Mummification is a way for them to pay homage to the deceased or express an important religious belief - belief in the existence of an afterlife.
The embalming process often involves intentionally removing moisture from the dead body and using preservative chemicals, such as turpentine, to dry the meat and body parts. However, there are also mummies that are created naturally when the body is exposed to cold, dry conditions or some other environmental factor that can prevent decomposition.
The world's oldest natural mummy was found baseball jersey design in Spirit Cave, a suburb of Fallon, Nevada (USA). The dry and thin atmosphere of the cave has helped it survive to this day. At the time this mummy was discovered in 1940, scientists thought it was only about 1,500 to 2,000 years ago. But in the 1990s, researchers determined it to be more than 10,000 years old after they used radiocarbon dating.
the oldest natural mummy in ancient Egypt dates back just over 5,500 years. This is the mummy of a young woman whose body is covered in a layer of fur after death. “Otzi the Iceman” is another famous natural mummy known to be the oldest in Europe. After Otzi was murdered in the Alps about 5,300 years ago, his body was preserved in ice, until a tourist caught it in 1991.
The first civilization to practice mummification
In 1917, German archaeologist Max Uhle discovered the oldest intentionally created mummies in the Camarones Valley in Chile. This valley is located in the Atacama Desert, a narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. The Atacama Desert has very little rainfall and is one of the driest places on Earth.
These mummies belong to the ancient Chinchorro
This is a prehistoric people who lived in coastal villages in southern Peru and northern Chile about 3,100 - 9,000 years ago. They live mainly on fishing, hunting land animals and gathering edible plants from the surrounding area.
The Chinchorro people started the practice of mummification about 7,000 years ago, 2,000 years earlier than the mummies of the Egyptian Pharaohs. First, people will cut off the head, arms and legs of the dead person, remove all the organs and flesh, and remove the brain through a hole in the skull. Skin is stripped from a body and then reattached, much like removing socks from a foot and putting them back on. Next, they would put hot coals into the baseball jacket hollow part of the dead body [after removing the organs] to dry it with heat. Finally, the detached parts are put back together. The body will be stuffed with fur, vegetable fibers, and clay. The mummy wears a short black wig and a clay mask.
In the early stages of the Chinchorro culture (about 4,500 - 7,000 years ago), people would cover the outside of the mummy with a black paint made of manganese. From 2500 BC until this practice disappeared around the first century BC, they used red ocher instead of manganese. Not only the elite but all sections of Chinchorro society were mummified, including infants, children, adults, and even fetuses.
Famous mummies in Egypt
In ancient Egypt, the mummification process was the most elaborate and complex. The first Egyptian mummies intentionally created by humans date back to 3,500 BC. Unlike Chinchorro society, the practice of mummification in ancient Egypt was only for the upper classes such as Pharaohs, queens, noble families and the rich. Ordinary people are rarely mummified because it is very expensive.