Scans unveil the secrets of the oldest mummies
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.