The world’s oldest mummies have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

The world's oldest mummies have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

The largest collection of chinchilla mummies in the world can be found near the Asapa Museum, which has been in operation since 1967. Some very small and beautiful shapes, resembling gothic rag dolls, are displayed inside white coffins resembling glass-covered coffins. .. even looks like a scarecrow from them Halloween: Streams full of sticks and reeds and faces covered with frightening masks.

There are about 300 mummies in the Asapa collection, but 90% of them are not on display and are stored in a warehouse with no air conditioning or humidity control. The new museum, under construction, valued at 20 billion Chilean pesos (approximately US $ 24.7 million), will open on the affiliate site by 2024. It will have an area of ​​5,000 square meters and will retain the mummies suitable humidity up to 40%. And 60%.

Why is climate change threatening mummies?

The dry weather in Atacama has helped protect chinchilla mummies for thousands of years, but some have deteriorated rapidly over the past decade and their skin has melted like dark goo. In the opinion of Harvard scientists, Climate change causes microorganisms to attack mummies’ collagen.

Behind it is the strongest current of the El Niനോo phenomenon Humidity increases Mummies are endangered in the area, i.e. kept in museums or buried in the desert. Residents often see fiber fragments, bones, and other remains of chinchilla mummies falling down the brown hills south of Caletta Cameron. Jannina Campos, an archaeologist at the Chinchoro site, says: “Every time it rains, the desert is full of bones. Locals used to say that this phenomenon only happens once in 100 years, but due to climate change, the rains occur intermittently and intensify.

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Instead of removing debris from the site each rainy season, the compost records the mummies, their coordinates, and re-buried in hyper-dry soil. “The moment this cultural material is removed from its place, it begins to deteriorate,” she says, until the new museum is built, with no place to store it.

“A new museum with a balanced ecological environment will have a huge impact on the care of mummies,” says Marila Santos, curator of the University of Tarapa and in charge of museums. They hope the new museum and UNESCO recognition will help transform Chile’s northern areas of Arika and Parinacota into a new center for cultural tourism.

Nicholas del Valle, coordinator of the UNESCO Chile Culture Program, says recent developments in Chile are the beginning of a larger process to promote the Chinchoro culture. “There is a lot of work to be done,” he explains, adding that in order to develop knowledge about chinkoro culture around the world, people living in the ancestral homeland of these people need to appreciate and share this story.

People living near farms in Arika still remember playing with the chinchilla skulls they found in their backyards in the 1960s and 1970s. People now have a sense of ownership. There are chinchilla themed restaurants and hotels. Artists as Novelists (Patricio Barrios), Musicians (Roots group) Plastic Artists (Paola pepper) Inspired by chinchilla mummies. People who once unknowingly looted tombs are now the first to report such violations.

“Over time, people stopped thinking that chinchillas were just objects of scientific study and began to form emotional ties with the first inhabitants of the Atacama Desert,” says Ariasa. “Society seems strong; It’s her own heritage and part of her identity. ”

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