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Miscellaneous Mummies (Compendium Thread)



Mummies for fuel.

The excellent 'Unearthing Mysteries' on Radio 4 (available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagainflash.shtml), had a programme on the modern investigations into the diseases suffered by ancient egyptians. They also mentioned the occurance of mummies being shipped over from Egpyt and then appalling being used as a souirce of fuel by the Victorians, for example being shoved into the furnaces of steam trains, as presumably mummies plundered from tombs were two a penny.

Now we all know the victorians were a grisly and dark people but surely using human remains (even those of heatherns) must have been seen as wrong by some. Were the mumies sold in bits as fuel? Who sold them? (I'm reminded of pictures I've seen of traders in human body parts in Russia in the late 19th century, well dressed peasant types sitting in a high backed chair, human limbs strewn at their feet, but thats another thread entirely) Was it black market? Is,as I am beginning to suspect, this a UL ?
Yes, I have heard of this;
bear in mind that most of the mummies were infact just dried bodies from paupers grave pits; and mummified animals found in quite large quantities...
mummy was sold as a medicine and a paint ingredient (brown)
and as fertiliser;

but I do not think it was burnt in railway engines to be honest; this seems to have been a joke by Mark Twain;

this link also suggests that mummies were created to fill a demand;
"Hundreds of thousands
of mummies were dug up, most of them from the common pits where
the hastily mummified poor had been buried" for the
purpose of grinding them to powder in the belief that the
mummies contained bitumen which was believed to have curative
powers. In fact, the demand from Europe was so graet that
there grew a n industry for "instant mummies" in which the
bodys of newly dead people and animals were dipped into pitch
or asphalt and dried in the sun for an "instant mummy." After
the demand for mummy as medicine dropped off, mummies were
still made and sold for bone meal, fertilizer and as ingredient
in artists' paints.
mummy was indeed a colour (Sally may know more and indeed may have handled it) It was ground up Mummys, which made a subtal brown/cream... aparently when Rosetti learned of its origin he dug a hole in his lawn and gave the tube a decent cristian burial.
Eburacum45 said:
...this link also suggests that mummies were created to fill a demand;
"Hundreds of thousands of mummies were dug up, most of them from the common pits where the hastily mummified poor had been buried...the demand from Europe was so graet that
there grew a n industry for "instant mummies" in which the
bodys of newly dead people and animals were dipped into pitch
or asphalt and dried in the sun for an "instant mummy."
A recent UK tv series, the name and channel for which has conveniently slipped my mind (ch5, on the trail of mummies?), featured two scientist types touring the world, searching out famous mummies from history. Several were exposed as fakes, the most distressing being a supposed ancient queen of ?(Babylonian type place, cuneiform script?). The first indication it was a fake was the script was about 500 years advanced fom when the queen was mummified. Further investigation into the mummy revealed it to be only about 20-30 years old, and the woman who was mummified probably didn't die of natural causes.
Sorry I can't be more specific, I'll google when I get chance.
Oh, I saw that one. Didn't they reckon that someone had dug a body of someone who had died in a car crash, as the 'mummy' had a broken back? And the 'Persian' designs had been drawn in pencil and then painted in?

I think it was on Channel 4, a while back.
That sounds like the one. They were concerned at first that the mummy might have been topped on purpose, to provide the body.
From R.J.Gettens & G.L.Stout's Painting Materials, 1942:

Mummy A brown, bituminous pigment was once actually prepared from the bones and bodily remains of Egyptian mummies which had been embalmed with asphaltum. It was claimed that, through time, the asphaltum had lost some of its volatile hydrocarbons, and the powder from the ground-up, embalmed remains was more solid than recent asphaltum [also used as a pigment] and was better suited for a pigment. Apparently, it was once a favourite with some artists. Church says that it was certainly used as an oil paint at least as early as the close of the XVI century. Little is known about its history; it has not been mentionned in reports on the identification of materials in paintings. It is now perhaps unobtainable and is no longer desired in the arts. Some oil paints sold under that name are substitutes which contain bituminous earths such as Van Dyke brown.

There's a book called The Mummy Congress which seems chocca block full of facts...
And from Victoria Finlay's Colour, 2002:

"But the most extraordinary brown was called mommia or "mummy", and it was, as its name promised, made of dead Ancient Egyptians. In her book Artists' Pigments 1600 to 1835 Rosamund Harley quotes from the journal of an English traveller who in 1586 visited a mass grave in Egypt. He was let down into the pit by a rope, and strolled around the corpses, which were illuminated by torchlight. He was a cool customer, and described how he "broke of all parts of the bodies... and brought home divers heads, hands, arms and feete for a shewe". Mommia was a thick bitumen-like substance and was apparently excellent for shading, although no good as a watercolour. The British colourman George Field recorded getting a delivery of "Mummy" from Sir William Beechey in 1809. It arrived "in a mass, containing and permeating rib-bone etc - of a strong smell resembling Garlic and Ammonia - grinds easily - works rather pasty - unaffected by damp and foul air". By then it was a well-established colour: as early as 1712 an artists' supply shop rather jokingly called "A la Momie" opened in Paris, selling paint and varnish, as well as - most appropriately - the funeral ritual substances of incense and myrrh.
If the suppliers ran out of Egyptian brown, they could always make their own. In 1691 William Salmon, a "Professor of Physick" working out of High Holborn, gave a recipe for artificial mummy, as follows: "Take the carcase of a young man (some say red hair'd) not dying of a Disease but killed; let it lie 24 hours in clear water in the Air: cut the flesh in pieces, to which add Powder of Myrrh and a little Aloes, imbibe it 24 hours in the Spirit of Wine and Turpentine..." It was a particularly good remedy for dissolving congealed blood and expelling wind "out of both Bowels and Veins", he said.
Thousands of mummified cats were quite famously ground up for fertiliser, which is one of the reasons very few of this type of mummy survive today:

Link is dead. No alternative or archived version found.

There's a cat mummy in the medical section of the London Science Museum, it's pretty much like the article describes, no limbs or tail visible, just a tube with the head at the top. From the exhibit I saw I couldn't work out wether it had shrunk with dessecation or wether it was an incredibly tiny cat to begin with.

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How To Make A Mummy

German Team Finds Secret of Mummies' Preservation

By Chris Slocombe

LONDON (Reuters) - A German research team has unravelled the mystery of how the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead, using sophisticated science to track the preservative to an extract of the cedar tree.

Chemists from Tuebingen University and the Munich-based Doerner-Institut replicated an ancient treatment of cedar wood and found it contained a preservative chemical called guaiacol.

"Modern science has finally found the secret of why some mummies can last for thousands of years," Ulrich Weser of Tuebingen University told Reuters on Wednesday.

The team then tested the chemicals found in the cedar derivative on fresh pig ribs. They found it had an extremely high anti-bacterial effect without damaging body tissue.

The findings, published in the science journal Nature, will surprise Egyptologists who had thought the embalming oil was extracted from juniper rather than cedar.

The team also tested juniper extracts but found they did not contain the guaiacol preservatives.

Weser said that, despite ancient mentions of "cedar-juice," scholars believed juniper to be the source because of similar Greek names and some mummies being found clutching juniper berries.

Grave robberies forced the ancient Egyptians, who mummified their dead in the hope they would live eternally, to bury deceased leaders deeper. Decomposition was much quicker, meaning they had to find a preservative as well as salting the bodies.

The team extracted the cedar oil using a method mentioned in a work by Pliny the Elder, a Roman encyclopaedist who wrote of an embalming ointment called "cedrium."

Although there are no contemporary descriptions of how the tar was made, modern Egyptologists had overlooked Pliny's account as he was writing centuries later.

The team found their cedar wood tar did contain the key preservative guaiacol. "We could demonstrate the accuracy of Pliny's writings with 21st century science," Weser said.

Crucial to the team's research was finding unused embalming material which had been laid down next to the superbly preserved 2,500-year-old mummy of "Saankh-kare." This allowed them to carry out chemical analysis of tar unaffected by contact with body tissues.

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Lost "Sleeping Beauty" Mummy Formula Found
January 26, 2009--She's one of the world's best-preserved bodies: Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old Sicilian girl who died of pneumonia in 1920. "Sleeping Beauty," as she's known, appears to be merely dozing beneath the glass front of her coffin in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy.

Now an Italian biological anthropologist, Dario Piombino-Mascali of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, has discovered the secret formula that preserved Rosalia's body so well. (Piombino-Mascali is funded by the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council. National Geographic News is owned by the National Geographic Society.)

Piombino-Mascali tracked down living relatives of Alfredo Salafia, a Sicilian taxidermist and embalmer who died in 1933. A search of Salafia's papers revealed a handwritten memoir in which he recorded the chemicals he injected into Rosalia's body: formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin.

Formalin, now widely used by embalmers, is a mixture of formaldehyde and water that kills bacteria. Salafia was one of the first to use this for embalming bodies. Alcohol, along with the arid conditions in the catacombs, would have dried Rosalia's body and allowed it to mummify. Glycerin would have kept her body from drying out too much, and salicylic acid would have prevented the growth of fungi.

But it was the zinc salts, according to Melissa Johnson Williams, executive director of the American Society of Embalmers, that were most responsible for Rosalia's amazing state of preservation. Zinc, which is no longer used by embalmers in the United States, petrified Rosalia's body.

"[Zinc] gave her rigidity," Williams said. "You could take her out of the casket prop her up, and she would stand by herself."

Piombino-Mascali calls the self-taught Salafia an artist: "He elevated embalming to its highest level."

Learn more about Rosalia in National Geographic magazine's Sicily Crypts
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/ ... /gill-text
and on the National Geographic Channel documentary "Italy's Mystery Mummies." http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/s ... 7/Overview

—Karen Lange
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... mummy.html
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Nanostructure of 5,000-year-old mummy skin reveals insight

Nanostructure of 5,000-year-old mummy skin reveals insight into mummification process
April 20th, 2010 in Nanotechnology / Bio & Medicine

Research on the Iceman glacier mummy has revealed insight into how, on a molecular level, the mummification process can preserve human skin for long periods of time. Image copyright: South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/EURAC.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using cutting-edge microscopy techniques, researchers have gained insight into how human mummies can be extremely well-preserved for thousands of years. A team of scientists from Germany and Italy has investigated skin samples from Europe's oldest natural mummy, the 5,300-year-old "Iceman" who was buried in a glacier shortly after death in the Otzal Alps between Italy and Austria. The researchers found that the underlying structure of the mummy's skin is largely unaltered compared with the skin of a modern living human, likely maintaining its protective function due to dehydration.

When the Iceman was discovered by tourists in 1991, the well-preserved body was first thought to be a modern corpse. After scientists realized that the body was that of a 45-year-old man (possibly a shepherd) living in the Copper Age, continued research has revealed a wealth of information on Neolithic culture in the region. Although the Iceman could have died from a number of causes, examinations have suggested that he was killed by an arrowhead that entered his body under the left shoulder blade and caused severe internal bleeding. He also had stab trauma on his right hand and a bruise at the head that possibly resulted from a blow to the head.

Since the Iceman’s discovery, investigations using optical and scanning electron microscopes have revealed that, while the epidermis (outer layer of skin) is missing, the remaining mummified skin collagen is extremely durable. However, the underlying reason for the durability is largely unclear. In the current study, the researchers have investigated three skin samples from the Iceman using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Raman spectroscopy to try to understand how the mummified skin is so well-preserved. These techniques allowed the scientists to investigate the skin collagen’s nanostructure and molecular structure.

In their investigations, the researchers discovered that the mummy’s skin and recent skin samples were very similar. Among their findings was that both samples featured the nanoscale periodic banding patterns that are characteristic of collagen fibrils. Also, the Raman spectroscopy analysis showed that the ancient and recent skin spectra were very similar, indicating that the molecular structure of the mummy’s skin was largely unchanged.

However, by conducting AFM nanoindentation experiments, the researchers found that the mummified skin had a slightly higher Young’s modulus, meaning that it was slightly less elastic and stiffer than recent skin. As the researchers explain, the most probable cause of this increased stability of the mummified collagen is dehydration by freeze-drying. Dehydration may have resulted in more densely packed fibril structures, leading to the creation of additional cross-links between the subfibrils. In this way, the dehydrated skin could maintain its protective function and continue to prevent tissue decomposition.

“The most important finding of our study is that the type I collagen in the mummified skin of the Iceman retained its structure and thus maintained its protective function (against external influences, such as UV- irradiation, freeze-thaw damage, or microbiological degradation) enabling continuous tissue preservation for 5300 years,” Marek Janko, coauthor from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich and the European Academy of Bolzano (EURAC), told PhysOrg.com. “But it also covers important aspects of collagen structure and mechanical property analysis and gives important insight into mechanistic details about the mummification process, extending earlier work by Schweitzer, Lingham-Soliar, Williams, Hess and others.”

Overall, the researchers’ findings support the theory that the Iceman was covered by snow and ice immediately after his death, and - other than for a few thawing and refreezing cycles - likely remained frozen for the majority of the time until his discovery. The results could also have implications in different areas, as Robert Stark, coauthor from LMU Munich, explained.

“Often, mummies are an invaluable cultural heritage because they tell us a lot about life and death in former times,” said Stark. “There are various ways to mummify a corpse. Examples include the procedures used by the old Egyptians, the methods used to conserve Rosalia Lombardo (considered one of the most beautiful mummies) or the Iceman.”

“Last but not least,” Janko added, “our finding that the dehydration of the collagen may cause an increase in the collagen fibril elasticity can have suitable applications in surgery where collagen tissues with desired mechanical properties are needed.”

More information: Marek Janko, et al. “Nanostructure and mechanics of mummified type I collagen from the 5300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0377
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Body of missing hiker found after 21 years
The body of an American mountain climber missing for 21 years has been discovered in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.
Published: 11:48PM BST 29 Aug 2010

Two hikers discovered the body of William Holland, an American from the US state of Maine, around two weeks ago, according to Canadian media. He disappeared in 1989 in Banff National Park.

Holland’s body and mountaineering equipment were reportedly preserved by the freezing conditions at the site and when the ice melted there this summer, his corpse was revealed.

Holland, who was 38 when he disappeared, was climbing Snow Down mountain when he fell some 300 meters. His climbing partners quickly alerted emergency services, but the search was called off the following day because of an avalanche.

The route he was climbing is known as a dangerous path and a number of people have died near the same spot.

“By the time we got there the body was fully exposed. We didn’t have to chip the body out at all,” Parks Canada rescue specialist Garth Lemke told CBC news. “He was generally skin and bones, having quite a mummified look to him. His clothes and gear were relatively intact, and if you look at where he was, he was basically in a deep freeze for the last 21 years.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... years.html
And, um, what does this reveal about climbing gear of 21 years ago?
Kondoru said:
And, um, what does this reveal about climbing gear of 21 years ago?

She's aged well: Face of incredibly preserved 700-year-old mummy found by chance by Chinese road workers
By Oliver Pickup
Last updated at 2:55 PM on 4th March 2011

These incredible pictures show a 700-year-old mummy, which was discovered by chance - by road workers - in excellent condition in eastern China.
The corpse of the high-ranking woman believed to be from the Ming Dynasty - the ruling power in China between 1368 and 1644 - was stumbled across by a team who were looking to expand a street.

And the mummy, which was found in the city of Taizhou, in the Jiangsu Province, along with two other wooden tombs, offers a fascinating insight into life as it was back then.
Discovered two metres below the road surface, the woman's features - from her head to her shoes - have retained their original condition, and have hardly deteriorated.

When the discovery was made by the road workers, late last month, Chinese archaeologists, from the nearby Museum of Taizhou, were called into excavate the area, the state agency Xinhua News reported.
They were surprised by the remarkably good condition of the woman's skin, hair, eyelashes and face. It was as though she had only recently died.


The Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644

It was 'one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history' according to venerated tome A history of East Asian civilization

Ming rule saw the construction of a vast navy and a standing army of one million troops

There were enormous construction projects, including the restoration of the Grand Canal and the Great Wall and the establishment of the Forbidden City in Beijing (pictured) during the first quarter of the 15th century

Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million

Her body, which measures 1.5 metres high, was found at the construction site immersed in a brown liquid inside the coffin.
And the coffin was opened earlier this week, on March 1, much to the excitement of the local city - and further afield. And the right hand of the 700-year-old mummy showed her preserved skin, and a ring.

The mummy was wearing traditional Ming dynasty costume, and also in the coffin were bones, ceramics, ancient writings and other relics.
This is the latest discovery after a lull of three years in the area. Indeed, between 1979 and 2008 five mummies were found, all in very good condition.
Those findings raising the interest in learning the techniques of preservation funeral of this dynasty and customs in time to bury the dead.

Director of the Museum of Taizhou, Wang Weiyin, told Xinhua that the mummy's clothes are made mostly of silk, with a little cotton.
He said usually silk and cotton are very hard to preserve and excavations found that this mummifying technology was used only at very high-profile funerals.

The first finding of the Ming Dynasty in Taizhou dates from May 1979 and led the opening of the museum.
At that time the bodies were also found intact, but due to lack of experience of archaeologists only clothing, belts and clamps could be preserved.

The Ming Dynasty, who built the Forbidden City and restored the Great Wall, was the last in China and marked an era of economic growth and cultural splendour which produced the first commercial contacts with the West.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1Fiu995Pc
Meet the Tutankhamun of Torquay: Terminally ill taxi driver who chose to have his body mummified for a Channel 4 documentary
By Colin Fernandez
Last updated at 9:17 AM on 18th October 2011

One ruled over a vast kingdom from his royal palace by the Nile. The other reigned over the roads from behind the wheel of his taxi in Torquay.
But despite their vastly different lives, and the thousands of years between them, King Tutankhamun and Alan Billis have one important thing in common.
The late Mr Billis has become the first man to be mummified in the style of the ancient Egyptians for at least 3,000 years.
Using the techniques that preserved Tutankhamun’s body after his death in 1323BC, scientists embalmed the 61-year-old following his death from lung cancer.

Mr Billis, who loved watching documentaries, agreed to have his body preserved after seeing an advertisement from a television company looking to film the process.
His wife Janet, 68, said: ‘He just said, “I’ve just phoned someone up about being mummified.” I said, “You’ve what?” I thought here we go again. It’s just the sort of thing you would expect him to do.’

But Mrs Billis and the couple’s three grown-up children gave his decision their blessing, and the resulting programme – Mummifying Alan: Egypt’s Last Secret – was screened on Channel 4 last night.

Taxi driver Mr Billis, who has been dubbed Torquay’s Tutankhamun, explained his unusual decision in the documentary, saying: ‘People have been leaving their bodies to science for years, and if people don’t volunteer for anything nothing gets found out.’
Over a period of several months following his death in January, Mr Billis’s internal organs were removed and kept in jars, with the exception of his brain and heart.
His skin was covered in a mixture of oils and resins and bathed in a solution of Natron, a salt found in dried-up river beds in Egypt.

After a month in a glass tank at the Medico-Legal Centre in Sheffield, which houses the city’s mortuary, his body was taken out, placed in a drying chamber and wrapped in linen.

Dr Stephen Buckley of the University of York, who helped research Egyptian mummification techniques before the programme, said Mr Billis’s body could now last several millennia.
And wherever Mr Billis goes, a folder full of drawings by his grandchildren goes with him.

In an interview with the Radio Times, Mrs Billis said: ‘I didn’t find it upsetting. There wasn’t anything scary.
'I think it was because you could see they all took such good care of Alan. When I did eventually watch the film and saw his mummified face, you could see it was still him, still very much Alan. “I won’t be Tutankhamun, I’ll be Tutanalan,” he used to say. 8)
‘The involvement in the television programme kept him occupied, took his mind off the illness.’

As well as Dr Buckley, the team of experts behind the mummification included Dr Joann Fletcher, Maxine Coe and forensic pathologist Peter Vanezis. Professor Vanezis said he was pleased with the result, adding: ‘The skin itself has this leathery appearance which indicates that he has become mummified all over.
‘It makes me very confident that his tissues have been mummified correctly and in a very successful manner.’

Mr Billis’s mummy is expected to stay in Sheffield until the end of 2011. It will then be studied by scientists researching decomposition.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... z1b7cvvH6C
You’d have to be barmy to get your body embalmed
Putting your remains in the hands of others can only result in a grisly end.
By Rowan Pelling
8:33PM BST 18 Oct 2011

There are many questions you might expect on the Today programme, but not: “Why did you want to mummify someone?” The response from archaeological chemist Stephen Buckley was unsatisfactory: “I’d done experiments with animals – pigs – as a proxy for humans, but I really felt that… it was important to do a human to really demonstrate that this could be done.” Ah, the old “to show it could be done” rationale: I now keenly anticipate his investigations into the head-shrinking practices of the Jivaroan people of Ecuador and Peru.

The motivation of taxi driver Alan Billis in offering his corpse to Channel 4’s history boffins seems rather more understandable. He was terminally ill, he loved documentaries, and was tickled by the idea of his grandchildren saying after his death: “My granddad’s a pharaoh.”

I can see how a jape that endures beyond the grave is a diverting idea. Concert pianist André Tchaikowsky displayed this kind of mordant wit when he left his skull (as used in David Tennant’s Hamlet) to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Indeed, if I succumb to some frightful malaise, I plan to instruct my family to keep my left foot as a paperweight, in the manner of horsey types who preserve their favourite hunter’s hoof.

My only qualm is that Mr Billis may not have considered where his remains will be in a century or so. After the outlaw Elmer McCurdy was killed in a gunfight, his body was embalmed by an undertaker who charged a nickel a time to see “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up”. Five years later, McCurdy’s supposed long-lost brother pitched up, declaring that he wanted to give the body a proper burial. A fortnight later, the cadaver was the star exhibit in a travelling carnival; it was displayed at museums and haunted houses before being hung from a gallows inside the “Laff in the Dark” funfair attraction at Long Beach. McCurdy’s identity was only re-established after someone accidentally snapped an arm, and discovered that the “prop” was a real corpse. :shock:

You might have imagined that the remains of the social reformer Jeremy Bentham would be treated with greater respect, but no. His embalmed corpse (with separate head) was acquired by University College London in 1850, and displayed in a wooden cabinet; the head eventually had to be removed following one too many pranks by students. All in all, it seems safest to leave one’s body to the worms.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8833 ... almed.html
Oh, theres always one naysayer....

At least hes not taking up vaulable cemetry room...
Chilean team proposes theory on why early culture began to mummify their dead
August 14th, 2012 in Space & Earth / Earth Sciences

Head of a mummy from the Chinchorro culture, found in Northern Chile. Source: Wikipedia

(Phys.org) -- Researchers in Chile, led by Pablo Marqueta, an ecologist with Universidad Católica de Chile have come up with a new theory to explain why a civilization that thrived some seven thousand years ago suddenly began to mummify their dead. In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marqueta and his team suggest that it was due to constant exposure to dead bodies as the group lived in an area that was so dry, bodies didn’t decompose.

Marqueta et al, hypothesized that the Chinchorro, hunter-gatherers that lived in the desert region of what is now northern Chile and southern Peru, from about 10,000 years ago to around 4,000 years ago, began mummifying their dead as a way to deal with the bodies of those that had passed on, but refused to decompose. The bodies wouldn’t decompose because it was simply too dry; the area is one of the driest places on Earth. Thus over time, because the Chinchorro buried their dead in shallow graves, the wind would partially uncover them, leaving those still alive to be constantly exposed to thousands of such bodies in their lifetime. But that was only part of the story they say.

After studying ice samples from a nearby volcano, and other ecological factors, the team deduced that the area in which the Chinchorro lived experienced a time around six to seven thousand years ago, of a relative increase in water, but not in the air. More snow fell in the mountains leading to more water flowing down into the valleys, which led to more fish in the ocean nearby. The Chinchorro thrived, leading to groups as large as a hundred or more individuals. And when group size increases, the team says, along with prosperity, culture thrives as new ideas are exchanged.

The combination of the two, the group says, led to burial rituals, one of which was mummification, a natural extension of what the people were already seeing around them. This idea is reinforced by the fact that when conditions changed the mummification stopped. Around four thousand years ago, the heavier snows in the mountains ceased, leading to less water, less fish in the ocean, and a declining human population.

More information: PNAS August 13, 2012 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1116724109

© 2012 Phys.Org

"Chilean team proposes theory on why early culture began to mummify their dead." August 14th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-08-chilean-te ... lture.html
So it started out as a natural process?

that theorys hardly new

In fact, its mummified.
Kondoru said:
So it started out as a natural process?

that theorys hardly new

In fact, its mummified.

Where did you dig that up?

Have to admit its fascinating to read about a hunter gatherer society all those millennia ago in South America.
Zilch5 said:
ramonmercado said:
Interesting book on the topic: The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. Review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-393-04521-5

Thanks! I will put it on my Christmas wishlist - but I will doubt I will get it. :(

It went into paperback and should be relatively easy to get. Just noticed that my own copy seems to be missing. A visit to second-hand book shops is called for.