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The Mummies of Chauchilla ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ in Peru

Scattered among the many full-bodied mummies at Chauchilla ᴄᴇᴍᴇᴛᴇʀʏ are a number of mummified ʜᴇᴀᴅs. Many of the ʜᴇᴀᴅs have been specially prepared with holes drilled into the backs of their sᴋᴜʟʟs , and in some cases, rope has been threaded through the mummified ʜᴇᴀᴅ. This is possibly so they could be worn as a necklace or as a jaunty charm hanging off of a belt. Though originally believed to be “trophy ʜᴇᴀᴅs” taken in battles, recent evidence shows that the ʜᴇᴀᴅs actually came from the same population as the rest of the mummies, suggesting the ʜᴇᴀᴅs may not have been taken in battle after all. The exact nature and use of the ʜᴇᴀᴅs remain distinctly unclear.

Despite the fact that the burial grounds have not been utilized since the ninth century, the human remains are astoundingly well-preserved. The Peruvian Desert’s dry climate is, of course, a factor in the preservation, but burial practices also contributed to the condition of many of the corpses, some still hanging on to their hair and skin over 1200 years after their demise.

Clothed in cotton and painted with resin, the deceased were placed in mud-bricked tombs. Wooden posts that were once assigned by archeologists to the category of religious use are now thought to be drying posts for the ᴅᴇᴀᴅ , which would explain the added step needed for such an impressive example of mummification.

Discovered in the 1920s, the remains and artifacts were spread across the area, picked over by nefarious pilferers. The burial ground has been restored to as close to its original state as possible, with the ʙᴏɴᴇs, bodies, ʜᴇᴀᴅs, and artifacts either returned to tombs or showcased in displays.