Scans un­veil the se­crets of the old­est mum­mies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in San­ti­ago

The world’s old­est mum­mies have just had an un­usual checkup.

More than 7,000 years af­ter they were em­balmed by the Chin­chorro peo­ple, an an­cient civ­i­liza­tion in mod­ern-day Chile and Peru, 15 mum­mies were taken to a San­ti­ago clinic re­cently to un­dergo DNA anal­y­sis and com­put­er­ized to­mog­ra­phy scans.

The Chin­chorro were a hunt­ing and fish­ing peo­ple, who lived from 10,000 to 3,400 BC on the Pa­cific coast of South Amer­ica, at the edge of the Ata­cama desert.

They were among the first peo­ple in the world to mum­mify their dead. Their mum­mies date back some 7,400 years — at least 2,000 years older than Egypt’s.

Now, re­searchers are hop­ing to use mod­ern med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy to re­con­struct what they looked like in life, de­code their genes and bet­ter un­der­stand the mys­ter­ies of this an­cient civ­i­liza­tion.

The 15 Chin­chorro mum­mies, mostly chil­dren and un­born ba­bies, were put through a CT scan­ner at the Los Con­des clinic in the Chilean cap­i­tal.

“We col­lected thou­sands of images with a pre­ci­sion of less than one mil­lime­ter,” says chief ra­di­ol­o­gist Marcelo Galvez.

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