Chinchorro Mummies could become a World Heritage Site

The areas that house the mummies could be part of the other six sites of the country listed by UNESCO as World Heritage.

Momia Chinchorro
Imagen: El Quinto Poder

The Chinchorro people lived in the northern extreme of Chile, particularly in the coast area of the Atacama desert from 7,000 to 1,500 BC. Apart from being fishing people, the Chinchorro culture developed advanced techniques of mummification that were revealed around 30 years ago. This happened when archaeological sites which contained more than 200 mummified bodies belonging to this culture were discovered. Since then, they are known as the oldest mummies of the world.

Due to their historical and heritage value, the Universidad de Tarapacá has already sent a draft of an application for the status of World Heritage to the Consejo Nacional de Monumentos. The organization, which is under the Ministry of Education, will revise the document on April to decide if the application will be finally sent to UNESCO, organization in charge of cultural heritage worldwide.

If the agreement is fruitful, the Chinchorro mummies would be the 7th site of the country declared as World Heritage by the international organization. The Barrio Histórico in Valparaíso, the Churches of Chiloé, the Sewell mining town, the Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter works, the Rapa Nui National Park, and Qhapaq Ñan Andean road system (shared with Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia), are already part of the list.

Currently, the Azapa Museum of Universidad de Tarapacá has approximately 100 specimens of these archaeological relics, some of them in exhibition and others in controlled deposits and environments, while some other on-site hundreds of specimens can be found in the Museo de Sitio of Colón 10.