July 27, 2021 #ChileDiverse #ChileGlobal #Life and Culture.

Chinchorro Culture Settlements declared a World Heritage Site

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Chinchorro mummies as a world heritage site

Following this designation, Chile now has seven sites that have achieved the highest level of heritage protection granted by UNESCO.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee decided to include the Chinchorro Culture Settlements and Artificial Mummification in the Arica and Parinacota Region in northern Chile on the World Heritage List due to their outstanding universal value.

This site is an example of the interaction of a group of marine hunter-gatherers with one of the driest environments in the world and is a unique testimony of the complex spirituality of a now extinct cultural tradition - the Chinchorro Culture - expressed through the cemeteries in which natural and artificially mummified bodies are found.

There are three Chinchorro Culture settlements nominated as World Heritage Sites: Faldeos del Morro (1) and the Colón 10 Museum (2), which are located in the urban environment of Arica and stand out for being the most important and representative cemeteries of the Chinchorro funerary tradition-, and the mouth of the Camarones River (3), located in the rural area of the commune of Camarones, where it is possible to find different vestiges of this culture, both funerary and habitational, which are preserved in an environment and landscape similar to the time they inhabited it.

This is the seventh time Chile has been recognized by UNESCO on its World Heritage List, joining the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Offices; the Rapa Nui National Park; the Churches of Chiloé; Sewell Camp; the Historic Area of the city-port of Valparaíso; and the Qhapaq Ñan-Andean Road System. The country has two other nominations for this worldwide recognition.

Chinchorro Culture

The Chinchorro Culture developed more than 7,000 years ago by marine hunter-gatherers who settled and inhabited the coast of the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world, taking advantage of the abundant marine resources provided by the Humboldt Current. This profusion of raw materials allowed them to generate semi-permanent settlements at the mouths of the few rivers and streams in the area, with a specialized maritime technology, whose fragile evidence has been preserved thanks to the exceptional climatic conditions of northern Chile.

In the Chinchorro cemeteries there are mummified bodies due to the environment and artificial human mummification. The latter is remarkable due to antiquity and technique, as the Chinchorro were innovators in artificial mummification. Over time they perfected complex mortuary practices, to create "artificial" mummies that possessed material, sculptural, and aesthetic qualities that presumably reflected the fundamental role of the dead in their society.

From the evidence of the burial place, a few centimeters from the surface, and near or in the places where they lived, and from the wear and tear and repairs that they present, specialists suggest that these mummies continued to be part of the community or family life of the Chinchorro, where they were dug up for certain occasions and later reburied. This mummification process is older than that of Egyptian mummies.




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