Chilan Mummies
Biographical Information
Age Infant to full growth
Culture chilean
Site Arica
Current Location
Location Chile
Catalog #

Biography Edit

The Chinchorro mummies, are named after the Chinchorro beach in Africa which had similar burials to the ones found along the desert coats of Peru and Chile. The mummies were very well preserved as the hair, the body, clothes, and bones of the burials found upon these shores. Included in the finds, there was an infant, who was only a few months old. This infant mummy had a black funuerary mask covering its face where it laid in the ground for over 5,000 years.</p> <p style="font-weight:normal;">The mummies were first uncovered in 1917 by a German archaeologist who found several bodies but the majority were found in the latter half of the 20th century. </p> The mummies were originally found by the Aricia Water Company. The company was digging in this area so that they could build new pipelines and within 3 feet from the surface, they found a gravesite with the mummies. The area in which they were found is about 75 square feet, where 96 bodies were found. The bodies were also, all lying on their backs which could indicate a tradition or belief about the Incan society. 

Mummification Edit


The mummification of the mummies was for religious purposes. The culture being studied possibly believed that mummies acted as a bridge between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The most important aspect of the mummies is how they were cared for. The first step in their mummification was to be cleaned by a morturary assistant where they would detach the head, and remove things such as the skin, organs, ect. The hands and feet were left for the fact that they were meticulous. The removed skin was then put into seawater so it would remain soft. Most of the mummies have intact skulls thus indiciating that they have a brain or it was scooped out by the foramen magnum. An artisan then would work to keep the body intact and disallow it to cave in. The skin was then reattached to the body so it would look more human-like. After rebuilding the body, it is painted with black paint. 


The mummies have been studied by National Geographic Team and by the Archaeological Museum of San Miguel de Azapa and by other University teams around the world. The Archaeological Museum discovered that the mummies have dries out naturally in the Atacama Desert. 

The grave goods found with the mummies are what have interested archaeologists the most thus being why these mummies are so obscure. 

Pathology Edit

In 1983 when the mummies were studied very closely, the scholars discovered one of the oldest mummification rituals in history. The mummies also have been studied for knowledge on their diet. It has been gathered that this Incan culture live primarily off of land animals, plants, sea lion meat, fish, shellfish and seaweed. This has been the basis of their diet for five millenniums. 


Arriaza, B. (1995). Chile’s Chinchorro Mummies. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from 

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