How Chin­chorro mum­mies were made

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The Chin­chorro pri­mar­ily used two meth­ods to pre­serve their dead: black mum­mi­fi­ca­tion from 5,000–3,000 BCE and red mum­mi­fi­ca­tion from 2,500–2,000 BCE. The black mummy tech­nique in­volved sep­a­rat­ing the head, arms and legs of the de­ceased per­son and dry­ing the body us­ing heat be­fore the flesh was stripped from the bone. The brain was then re­moved by cut­ting the skull in half at about eye level. The skull and body were then packed with ma­te­rial such as feath­ers and then tied back to­gether.

A red mummy, on the other hand, had in­ci­sions made in the trunk and shoul­ders of the body to re­move the in­ter­nal or­gans and dry the cav­ity, and the head was com­pletely re­moved from the body. The body was then stuffed with ma­te­ri­als be­fore be­ing sewn up, with the head reat­tached after the brain had been re­moved. A hu­man-hair wig would then be placed on the head, and ev­ery­thing apart from this sin­gle item would be painted with red ochre, a sub­stance com­mon in south Brazil.

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