Human Mummies pp 131-140 | Cite as

Preparation of the dead in coastal Andean preceramic populations

  • B. Arriaza
Part of the The Man in the Ice book series (3262, volume 3)


This paper addresses the earliest known artificial mummification in the world which was practiced by the Chinchorro Culture of South America 8,000 years ago (Uhle, 1919; Alvarez, 1969; Nuñez, 1969; Allison et al., 1984; Arriaza, 1993). Mortuary techniques used by the preceramic Chinchorro Culture will be reviewed and it will be argued that less complex socio-political organizations cannot necessarily be equated with simple mortuary practices. Two fundamental questions will be discussed: 1) why did the Chinchorro develop their laborious mortuary practices? and 2) what is the anthropological relevance of studying preparations of the dead? These are basic questions which do not have simple answers, but are essential for understanding mummification customs and the utility of preceramic mortuary studies in anthropology.


Black Mummy Grave Good Religious Ideology Burial Practice Ancestor Worship 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Arriaza
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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