• Maureen Elsberry

The Melting Freaks of Nature in Chile are Disturbing Scientists

The full version of this post originally appeared on ToTheStars.media (artwork by Caleb Hanks).

Scientists around the world are freaking out as some of the 120 Chilean mummies of Chinchorro have started to melt at their home in the University of Tarapacá's archeological museum in Arica.

The Chinchorro mummies are known as the oldest existing examples of artificial mummification by a culture, pre-dating Egyptian mummies by more than 2,000 years. It’s unclear why the bodies were subjected to the process of mummification, but, historians opine that it was their way of linking this world to the next. These were not just kings or noblemen. These were ordinary people, which leads them to believe that life as a mummy was a second-chance. 

The process in which they mummified their dead was intricate. While there were varying methods, the most common during the earlier times would to be to disassemble the bodies, remove their internal organs and skin, reassemble the skeletons, and then replace the insides with fibrous plants, dried vegetable matter, and clay. They would often then put the skin back on and create clay masks and sexual organs and paint the whole thing black . . . a literal Dr. Frankenstein creation of the ancient times. 

Slow degradation of the clay in the mummies has been noticed for the last decade. But it wasn’t until recently that people noticed the skin and the mummies were melting into pools of gelatinous black goo. It’s believed this was caused by a bacteria found on the skin of the mummies that wasn’t ancient, just malicious; Silently waiting until the right time and temperature to strike and feed off the skin of these poor complacent bodies. 

To continue reading this story, please visit here: These Melting Freaks of Nature in Chile are Disturbing Scientists

By Pablo Trincado - originally posted to Flickr as cultura chinchorro año 3000 AC, CC BY 2.0

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