Mummification in South America was also
practiced along the Pacific coast in the fishing village of Paracas. More than 429 human mummy
bundles have been found there, as well as bundles containing parrots,
foxes, dogs, cats, frogs, and deer.
They apparently date from around 400 B.C.
However, not all archaeologists agree that these mummies were
In Paracas, bodies were put
into "mummy bundles" before they were interred in a large
underground necropolis, or burial chamber. They were placed in a seated
position and bound tightly with cord. Then they were covered with cotton
cloth and wrapped with brightly decorated fabric. Finally, the body was
placed in a coiled basket and taken to the necropolis.
No one knows.
What's special about them
1. Archaeologists have concluded that when
the person was important in the community, more layers of fabric were used
to wrap the body. In one case, writes the author Georgess McHargue, the
was four yards wide and twenty-two yards long. This cloth was woven by
hand, so a great deal of painstaking work was involved in its
2. Did the citizens of Paracas intend to
make mummies? Some archaeologists believe that mummification occurred
through a natural drying process. Others believe that resins were used to
prepare the bodies. But until further studies take place and the results
are compared, no one will know for certain.
One Paracas mummy bundle is
displayed in Hildesheim, Germany, at the Roemer-Pelizaeus
Other South & Central American Mummies
to Inca mummies, a cache of more than 200 mummies was found in Peru in
The first people in the world to
practice mummification, they preserved their dead beginning about 5000
B.C., reaching a peak in 3000 BC--around the same time that the Egyptians
began experimenting with mummification.
mummies from Mexico, they were literally "dug up"
between the years 1896 and 1958.
of the Incan rulers (artificial mummies) and mountain top
sacrifices (accidental mummies) were made from 1438 to 1532,
during the reign of the empire.