Die 7 000 jaar oue Chinchorro-mummies van die Andes

Die 7 000 jaar oue Chinchorro-mummies van die Andes


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Die mummies van antieke Egipte is waarskynlik die bekendste mummies ter wêreld. Hulle is egter nie die oudste waarvan ons weet nie. Die Chinchorros van Suid -Amerika het ongeveer 7 000 jaar gelede begin om hul dooies te bewaar en hul mummies het een van die wondere van die Andes -argeologie geword.

Die Chinchorros was 'n volk wat tussen 7000 en 1500 v.C. aan die kus van die Atacama -woestyn in die noorde van Chili en suidelike Peru gewoon het. Die mense van hierdie kultuur het staatgemaak op visvang, jag en versameling vir lewensonderhoud. Terwyl die vroegste bekende Chinchorro -terreine tot 7000 v.C. dateer, dateer mummifikasie, gebaseer op huidige bewyse, tot 5000 v.C. Die Chinchorro -mummies is die eerste keer in 1917 geïdentifiseer deur die Duitse argeoloog, Max Uhle. Verdere opgrawings het getoon dat sulke mummies langs die kus versprei is en tussen Arica en Camerones gekonsentreer is. Dit was egter in 1983 dat die grootste en die beste bewaarde vonds van Chinchorro-mummies ontdek is. Hierdie ontdekking is nie deur argeoloë gemaak nie, maar deur die waterbedryf Arica terwyl hulle 'n nuwe pypleiding naby die voet van El Morro gelê het.

Terwyl Uhle aanvanklik drie kategorieë van mummifikasie geïdentifiseer het om mettertyd 'n toenemende kompleksiteit te toon, het argeoloë sedertdien sy verduideliking uitgebrei. Gevolglik was die twee mees algemene metodes wat gebruik word by die mummifikasie van Chinchorro, die swart mummie en die rooi mummie.

Die Black Mummy -tegniek is vanaf ongeveer 5000 v.C. tot 3000 v.C. Dit behels ontknoping, waarin die kop, arms en bene van die dooies eers verwyder is. Die liggaam is hitte-droog en die vleis is heeltemal van die bene verwyder. Die skedel is daarna in die helfte gesny, ongeveer op ooghoogte, om die brein te verwyder. Nadat die skedel gedroog is, was dit vol materiaal en vasgemaak. Die res van die liggaam is ook weer aanmekaar gesit. Om die ledemate en ruggraat te versterk, is stokke onder die vel gebruik. Die liggaam was ook vol materiale soos klei en vere. Die skedel is daarna weer aan die liggaam vasgemaak. 'N Wit aspasta is gebruik om die liggaam te bedek en ook die gapings te vul wat die hermonteringsproses gelaat het. Verder is dit gebruik om die normale gelaatstrekke van die persoon in te vul.

'N Kunstenaarsvoorstelling van die mummifikasieproses. Beeldbron .

Die Rooi Mummie -tegniek is vanaf ongeveer 2500 v.C. tot 2000 v.C. Dit was 'n heel ander metode in vergelyking met die Black Mummy -tegniek, aangesien die Chinchorros insnydings in die stam en skouers van die dooies gemaak het om die interne organe te verwyder en die liggaamsholte te droog. Om die brein te verwyder, is die kop van die liggaam afgesny. Soos die Black Mummy-tegniek, was die liggaam egter met verskillende materiale gevul om dit meer menslik te laat lyk. Daarbenewens is stokke gebruik om strukturele ondersteuning te bied. Die insnydings is toe toegewerk en die kop terug op die liggaam geplaas. 'N Pruik, gemaak van tossels menshare, is op die kop geplaas en vasgehou deur 'n' hoed 'van swart klei. Al die ander, behalwe hierdie pruik, en dikwels die gesig, sou dan met rooi oker geverf word.

'N Chinchorro -mummie. Beeldbron .

Dit lyk asof die Chinchorro -mummies die geestelike oortuigings van die ou Chinchorro -mense weerspieël, hoewel die presiese rede waarom hulle hul dooies gemummifiseer het, onbekend is. Sommige geleerdes beweer dat dit was om die oorblyfsels van hul geliefdes vir die hiernamaals te bewaar, terwyl 'n ander algemeen aanvaarde teorie is dat daar 'n soort voorouerkultus was, aangesien daar bewyse is van beide die liggame wat saam met die groepe gereis het en dat hulle daarin geplaas is. ereposisies tydens groot rituele, asook 'n vertraging in die finale begrafnis self.

Een van die indrukwekkendste kenmerke van die Chinchorros -mummies is die skaal waarop dit gedoen is. Anders as die ou Egiptenare, wat mummifikasie vir koninklikes en die elite voorbehou het, het die Chinchorro -gemeenskap hierdie heilige ritueel, ongeag ouderdom of status, verleen. Die besluit van egalitêre behoud word bewys deur die mummifikasie van alle lede van die samelewing, insluitend mans, vroue, bejaardes, kinders, babas en miskraam fetusse. Trouens, dit is dikwels so dat kinders en babas die mees uitgebreide mummifikasiebehandelings ontvang het.

Een verklaring vir hierdie egalitêre begrafnispraktyk is klimaatsverandering. Aangesien die Atacama -woestyn een van die droogste plekke op aarde is, sou lyke natuurlik behoue ​​gebly het. Namate die Chinchorros hul dooies in vlak grafte begrawe het, is dit waarskynlik dat die liggame gedeeltelik deur wind blootgestel is. Namate die seewatervlak ongeveer 6000 tot 7000 jaar gelede gestyg het, het die hoeveelheid mariene hulpbronne ook toegeneem, wat weer 'n groter bevolking ondersteun het. Namate die groepsgrootte toeneem, sou daar 'n groter uitruil van idees wees, wat lei tot meer welvaart en kulturele kompleksiteit, een van hulle is die praktyk van mummifikasie. Een van die interessantste aspekte van die Chinchorros is miskien dat dit, op grond van die beskikbare bewyse, blyk dat sosiale hiërargie nie ontwikkel is nie, anders as ander vroeë beskawings. Hoe hierdie kultuur daarin geslaag het om vir baie millennia egalitêr te bly en op 'n sosiale vlak te funksioneer sonder hiërargie, is iets wat argeoloë en antropoloë al dekades lank aangryp. Navorsing na hierdie aspek van hul kultuur is aan die gang.

Voorgestelde foto: Hoof van 'n mummie van Chinchorro . Foto bron: Dit is Chili .

Deur Ḏḥwty


Wat het die oudste mummies ter wêreld onder toedraai gehou?

Ongeveer 2 000 jaar voordat die Egiptenare hul dooies begin mompel het, het die mense wat tot die Chinchorro -kultuur behoort reeds redelik gesofistikeerde metodes vir balseming ontwikkel. Associated  France-Presse, gebruik navorsers mediese tegnologie om die geskiedenis van hierdie bewaarde lyke te ontrafel.

Vyftien van die mummies, baie van hulle babas en kinders, is onlangs na die Los  Condes   kliniek in Santiago vervoer, waar navorsers hulle ondersoek het met behulp van 'n CT -skandeerder om hul brose vorms te bestudeer sonder om skade aan te rig. Ons het duisende beelde met 'n presisie van minder as een millimeter versamel, en die hoofradioloog Marcelo  Galvez   vertel  Fleitas. Die volgende fase is om hierdie liggame feitlik te probeer ontleed sonder om dit aan te raak, wat ons sal help om dit vir nog 500 000 jaar te bewaar. ”

Die navorsers hoop ook om die gelaatstrekke en bespiering van die mummies digitaal te rekonstrueer om te onthul hoe hulle in die lewe gelyk het. Hulle het ook vel- en haarmonsters geneem vir DNA -toetsing, wat hulle hoop hulle sal help om die  Chinchorro -mummies te koppel aan 'n moderne bevolking en#160 in Suid -Amerika.

Die  Chinchorro   kultuur as geheel is vir moderne argeoloë 'n bietjie raaisel. Daar word geglo dat die mense hengel, gejag en versamel het langs die kus van die   Atacama   woestyn in die huidige noordelike Chili en die suide van Peru. Behalwe dat hulle hul dooies gemummifiseer het, is mense wat aan die Chinchorro -kultuur behoort, ook bekend daarvoor dat hulle vishake uit gepoleerde skulpe vervaardig het, met die hulp van 'n klipgewig.

Die mummies wat hulle geskep het, het egter verskil van dié wat deur die ou Egiptenare bewaar is.  Fleitas   verduidelik dat die  Chinchorro   die vel van die oorledene sou verwyder en die spiere en organe wat die geraamte blootstel, versigtig onttrek. Hulle vul dan die liggaam met plante, klei en hout voordat hulle die vel weer vaswerk en die gesig met 'n masker bedek.

Maar daar is nog baie om te leer oor hierdie ou bewaarde wesens, en die tyd word al hoe minder. Die kurator van die Universiteit van  Tarapaca    Die LA Times. Die museum het Ralph Mitchell, 'n artefak -kurator van Harvard, ingeroep wat die bakterieë op die mummies verbou het.

Wat hy gevind het, is dat algemene velmikroörganismes wat normaalweg goedaardig is in die droë woestynklimaat van die   Atacama  , die mummies ’ kollageen begin inneem het as gevolg van 'n toenemend vogtige klimaat in die noordelike streke. Nuwe mummies wat op opgrawingsplekke naby  Arica   gevind is, toon reeds tekens van agteruitgang -mummies wat in die 16060's gevind is, wat aanvanklik ongeskonde was, het in die afgelope dekade begin smelt “.

Hoe breed 'n verskynsel dit is, weet ons nie regtig nie. Die  Arica   -kas is die eerste voorbeeld wat ek ken van agteruitgang wat veroorsaak word deur klimaatsverandering, ” vertel Mitchell aan  Kraul. Maar daar is geen rede om te dink dat dit nie oral erfenismateriaal beskadig nie. Dit beïnvloed al die ander. ”

Konservators eksperimenteer tans met kombinasies van humiditeit en temperatuur om die mummies, Kraul   -verslae te bewaar. Vivien  Standen, professor in antropologie by  Tarapaca   en kenner van die  Chinchorro   is nie hoopvol nie. Ek is nie optimisties dat ons hulle kan red nie, en sy vertel  Kraul. “ Vanaf die oomblik dat hulle uit die grond gehaal word, begin hulle agteruitgaan. ”

'N Nuwe museum van $ 56 miljoen, wat die mummies sal insluit, word in 2020 geopen, berig Kraul. Die hoop is dat hulle die agteruitgang kan vertraag of stop deur elkeen van die liggame in sy eie temperatuur- en humiditeitsbeheerde kubus te omhul.

Oor Jason Daley

Jason Daley is 'n in Madison, Wisconsin gebaseerde skrywer wat spesialiseer in natuurgeskiedenis, wetenskap, reis en die omgewing. Sy werk het verskyn in Ontdek, Populêre wetenskap, Buite, Mansjoernaal, en ander tydskrifte.


Klimaatsverandering het moontlik tot die vroegste Suid -Amerikaanse mummies gelei

'N Paar duisend jaar voordat die Egiptenare sommige van hul dooies bewaar het, het 'n veel eenvoudiger samelewing die eerste bekende mummies gemaak.

Die Chinchorros, die eerste mummiemakers, het ongeveer 7 000 jaar gelede in Suid-Amerika gewoon, aan die kus naby die grens tussen die huidige Peru en Chili. Die woestyngebied waar hulle gewoon het, was so droog, dooie mense het natuurlik in mummies verander.

Die Chinchorro -kultuur het langs die kuslyn gestrek langs die huidige grens van Chili en Peru

“ Sodra u sterf, bly u daar, ”, sê die Chileense ekoloog Pablo Marquet, wat die Chinchorros en die omgewing waar hulle gewoon het, bestudeer. U verdwyn nie as gevolg van die ontbinding wat in baie ander omgewings plaasvind nie. ”

Op 'n stadium het die Chinchorros opgehou om dit aan die natuur oor te laat en het hulle dooies begin mompel. Hulle het hulle met pruike, klei en verf begin aantrek.

'N Paar jaar gelede het Marquet by argeoloë en paleoantropoloë aangesluit om die sentrale vraag te beantwoord.

Wat hulle wel geweet het, was dat die vroeë Chinchorros jagter-versamelaars was. Hulle het wel hul dooies begrawe, maar in vlak grafte net 'n voet of twee van die oppervlak af. Dit het net 'n bietjie erosie geneem om hierdie dooie mense aan die lig te bring.

In plaas van vleis te bewaar, het die Chinchorro-mense 'n pasta met mangaan-ingedampte as gebruik om bo-op ontwaterde geraamtes te vorm, waarvan die interne organe deur die aarde vervang is.

“ [In] die meeste ander bevolkings verdwyn die dooies en word hulle weer in die stelsel herwin, ” sê Marquet, “ maar hier bly hulle rond. ”

Die lewendes het ook die dooies teëgekom toe hulle nuwe grafte gegrawe het. Siektes en arseenvergiftiging deur drinkwater het hoogty gevier, wat baie lyke op die landskap veroorsaak het. Trouens, Marquet en sy span het bereken dat die gemiddelde persoon hierdie natuurlike mummies minstens honderde kere in 'n leeftyd sou teëkom.

Die vraag was waarom hulle hul dooies begin mummifiseer het, en ek dink die belangrikste insig kom uit die waarneming van hul omgewing, ” sê Marquet.

Hy sê dat hy dink dat al hierdie mummies die doodsrituele van Chinchorros geïnspireer het. Sy span het duisende jare gelede ook na data oor die klimaat gekyk.

Ons het die data begin sien, en alles was soos om perfek in lyn te kom, en hy sê. “Ons kon dit nie glo nie. ”

Volgens die data blyk dit dat die Chinchorros lyke begin bewaar en versier het gedurende 'n tyd dat hul klimaat natter was. Daar sal meer water en meer seekos wees om 'n groter bevolking te ondersteun. Artefakte uit daardie era bevestig dat die bevolking rondom hierdie tyd toegeneem het.

As u meer individue in die bevolking het en hulle begin interaksie het, is dit meer waarskynlik dat nuwe idees na vore kom, en sodra nuwe idees na vore kom, versprei dit vinniger, ” Marquet.

Die graf van twee volwasse en twee baba Chinchorro -mummies, moontlik deel uit dieselfde familie. Argeoloë glo dat die Chinchorros hul dooies gemummifiseer het as 'n manier om die volharding van hul voorouers in die droë Atacama -woestyn die hoof te bied.

Die idee is dat die meer gasvrye omgewing mense meer vrye tyd gegee het. Hulle het nie meer al hul tyd nodig gehad om te jag en te versamel nie. Hulle het tyd gehad om na hul dooies om te sien en hul balsemingstegnieke aan ander oor te dra.

Die bevindings verskyn in die tydskrif Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hierdie mummies het nog nie al hul geheime onthul nie. Navorsers probeer steeds verduidelik waarom babas en fetusse onder die Suid -Amerikaanse mummies was, en ander kulture het hierdie behandeling vir hul elite voorbehou.


Resensie

Oorsprong van T. cruzi

Filogenetiese analise van 18S rRNA -rye dui aan dat speekselagtige trypanosome (die T. brucei klade wat die trypanosome groepeer wat deur byt oorgedra word) wat afwyk van die stercorarian trypanosome (T. cruzi klade wat die trypanosome groepeer wat deur fekale besmetting oorgedra word) ongeveer 100 miljoen jaar gelede [10]. Net soos Suid -Amerika, Antarktika en Australië op dieselfde tyd van Afrika geskei is, word voorgestel dat T. cruzi en verwante trypanosome ontwikkel in isolasie by vroeë terrestriële soogdiere [11]. Hierdie idee staan ​​bekend as die suidelike superkontinent-hipotese. Op grond van hierdie scenario sou 'n mens 'n groot verskeidenheid van T. cruzi klade-trypanosome in Suid-Amerikaanse terrestriële soogdiere, op voorwaarde dat hulle teenwoordig was op die vasteland sedert die opbreek van die suidelike superkontinent 40 miljoen jaar gelede [11]. Dit is egter nie die geval nie. Geen bona fide spesies is ontdek in die T. cruzi tot dusver [11] van enige Suid-Amerikaanse terrestriële soogdier [11], dit wil sê dat geen mede-evolusie wat spesifieke spesies genotipes genereer, plaasgevind het nie. Daarbenewens, as T. cruzi clade trypanosome is ook teenwoordig by landsoogdiere uit Afrika en Australië [11], die rol van geografiese isolasie in die evolusie van T. cruzi is twyfelagtig.

Onlangse molekulêre bewyse dui daarop T. cruzi het ontwikkel uit 'n vlermuis -trypanosoom, 'n scenario wat bekend staan ​​as die kolfsaai -hipotese [11]. Hierdie idee word ondersteun deur die feit dat die naaste geneties gekarakteriseerde familielid van T. cruzi is T. marinkellei van Suid -Amerikaanse vlermuise [10, 12–14]. Albei het ongeveer 6,5-8,5 miljoen jaar gelede [15, 16] verskil en kan as subspesie beskou word (d.w.s. T. c. cruzi en T. c. marinkellei) [17]. Die onlangs beskryf T. erneyi en T. livingstonei gevind in vlermuise uit Mosambiek [18, 19], en T. dionisii van Ou en Nuwe Wêreld -vlermuise [10, 12, 14, 20] is ook naasbestaandes van T. cruzi. Verder, T. cruzi is aangetref in Suid -Amerikaanse vlermuise [12, 21, 22] met een spesifieke genotipe, TcBat, wat tot dusver slegs by vlermuise [23] aangetref is. TcBat is die naaste verwant aan T. cruzi TcI wat hoofsaaklik verband hou met opossums en konenose -insekte van die genus Rhodnius in boomagtige ekotope [11]. Op grond van hierdie feite is dit redelik om te veronderstel dat die gemeenskaplike voorouer van die lede van die T. cruzi clade was 'n vlermuis -trypanosoom. Vermoedelik het vlermuise wat met trypanosoom besmet is, Suid-Amerika ongeveer 7-10 miljoen jaar gelede via Noord-Amerika [24] gekoloniseer. Vervolgens het verskillende onafhanklike kolf -tripanosoom -afstammelinge oorgegaan van vlermuise in terrestriële soogdiere wat waarskynlik gefasiliteer word deur ongewerwelde vektore wat op sowel vlermuise as op landelike soogdiere leef wat in dieselfde boomagtige ekotope woon [10]. Een so 'n skakelaar het aanleiding gegee T. cruzi in die Plioseen [25]. Die diversifikasie van T. cruzi in die huidige DTU-afstammelinge het TcI-TcVI en TcBat ongeveer 1-3 miljoen jaar gelede redelik onlangs begin [25].

Pre-Columbiaanse tyd

Daar is bewyse dat mense, nadat hulle Suid -Amerika bevolk het, besmet geraak het T. cruzi. Die vroegste opsporing van a T. cruzi infeksie by 'n mens kom van 'n 9000 jaar oue Chinchorro -mummie deur PCR -versterking van kinetoplasied -DNA -rye [26]. Die Chinchorros was die eerste mense wat geïdentifiseer het, langs die kusstreek van die Suid -Amerika van die Atacama -woestyn in die suide van Peru en Noord -Chili. T. cruzi infeksies is ook gevind in mummies van daaropvolgende kulture wat die Chinchorros opgevolg het en in dieselfde gebied gewoon het tot die tyd van die Spaanse verowering in die 16de eeu [26]. Die voorkoms koers vir T. cruzi infeksie in hierdie bevolkings was 41% sonder dat daar beduidende verskille tussen die individuele kulture was wat daarop dui dat Chagas-siekte reeds in die voor-Columbiaanse tyd wyd versprei was in beskaafde samelewings [26]. Infeksies met T. cruzi is ook aangetref in menslike oorskot van ander argeologiese opgrawingsplekke in Amerika [27]. Byvoorbeeld, T. cruzi DNS is gevind in 'n 560 jaar oue gedeeltelik gemummifiseerde menslike liggaam en in 'n 4500-7000 jaar ou menslike beenfragment wat albei in die Peruaçu-vallei in die staat Minas Gerais, Brasilië [28, 29] opgegrawe is. Nog 'n geval van 'n prehistoriese T. cruzi infeksie is aangemeld by 'n 1150 -jarige mummie wat herstel is uit die Chihuahuan -woestyn naby die Rio Grande in Texas [27]. Benewens die opsporing van T. cruzi in menslike oorskot het verskeie opgegrawe mummies ook kliniese tekens van Chagas -siekte getoon [26–28, 30]. Verdere bewyse van Amerikaanse trypanosomiasis in die Pre -Columbiaanse tyd kom uit Peruaanse keramiek uit die 13de tot 16de eeu, wat moontlike voorstellings van die siekte van Chagas toon [31]. Dit bevat ook 'n kop met 'n eensydige swelling van die ooglid wat herinner aan die Romaña -teken [31].

Op grond van die paleoparasitologiese gegewens, is daar 'n veronderstelling dat Chagas -siekte in die Andes -gebied [32] ontstaan ​​het. Daar word geglo dat die Chinchorro -mense die eerstes was wat 'n nomadiese lewenstyl verlaat het en hulle gaan vestig het met akkerbou en veeteelt [26, 30, 31]. By die vestiging het prehistoriese mense ingedring en deelgeneem aan die sylatiese siklus van T. cruzi, en geleidelik het 'n huishoudelike siklus van oordrag van Chagas -siekte ontstaan ​​[26, 31, 32]. Die ontwikkeling van 'n huishoudelike T. cruzi Die oordragsiklus is veral vergemaklik deur die vermoë van sommige spesies triatomien -goggas T. infestans, om maklik aan te pas by meer oop plantegroei en om mettertyd 'n voorkeur vir menslike wonings te ontwikkel [33]. In hierdie konteks is dit belangrik om daarop te let dat die vestiging van landbou nedersettings gewoonlik 'n mate van ontbossing behels. Die belangrikste is dat ontbossing sterk verband hou met 'n toename in die voorkoms van Chagas -siekte [33]. Hierdie verband word ondersteun deur die feit dat Amerikaanse trypanosomiasis afwesig is by die inheemse inwoners van die Amasone-streek, wat verskillende sosio-omgewingspatrone van grondbesetting gebruik het, insluitend oop gemeenskaplike hutte wat ongunstig is vir vektorkolonisasie, voortdurende mobiliteit en afwesigheid van huisdiere wat almal belemmer saam die oordrag van vektore van die Chagas -siekte [34].

Moderne tye

16de tot 19de eeu

Vanaf die 16de eeu is daar verskeie verslae deur reisigers en dokters wat pasiënte beskryf met siektesimptome wat herinner aan Amerikaanse trypanosomiasis. 'N Eerste suggestiewe kliniese verslag met betrekking tot moontlike dermsimptome van Chagas-siekte kom uit 'n boek wat in 1707 deur die Portugese geneesheer Miguel Diaz Pimenta (1661-1715) [35] gepubliseer is. Daarin beskryf hy 'n toestand, wat bekend staan ​​as 'bicho', 'wat veroorsaak dat die humour behoue ​​bly, wat veroorsaak dat die pasiënt min begeerte het om te eet'. 'N Meer gedetailleerde ontleding van die teks dui egter daarop dat die beskryfde simptome meer geneig is tot aambeie eerder as na die kliniese beeld van 'n chagasiese megakolon [36]. 'N Duideliker weergawe van die megaviscerale sindroom van die Chagas-siekte kom van 'n ander Portugese geneesheer, Luís Gomes Ferreira (1686-1764), wat in 1735 geskryf het dat "die korrupsie van bicho niks anders is as 'n vergroting en uitbreiding van die rektum nie" [37, 38]. Ander rekords beskryf 'n toestand wat destyds bekend was as 'mal de engasgo', wat waarskynlik verwys na disfagie, die moeilikheid om te sluk [39-41]. Die Deense geneesheer Theodoro J. H. Langgaard (1813-1884), wat in 1842 na Brasilië geëmigreer het, gee byvoorbeeld die volgende kenmerkende beskrywing van die toestand: “... die voedselbolus gaan gewoonlik net deur na die cardia bokant die maag. ... Sommige pasiënte kan die afkoms van die voedsel in die maag dwing deur 'n klein hoeveelheid water te drink na elke mondvol ingeneemde voedsel. ... As gevolg van die onvolmaakte voeding begin die pasiënte om gewig te verloor, word hulle uitgeteer ... ”[37, 41]. Daar is nog baie meer verwysings na Chagas -siekte in 'n artikel van Guerra [42]. Al hierdie historiese verslae dui aan dat die Chagas -siekte sedert die begin van die 16de eeu in Latyns -Amerika voorkom en dat dit inheemse mense sowel as die veroweraars geraak het.

Daar is ook baie berigte oor triatomien -goggas lank voor hul rol as vektor T. cruzi is ontdek (hersien in [31] en [37]). Waarskynlik die bekendste weergawe van 'n soengogga kom van Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Op 25 Maart 1835 merk hy in sy dagboek op wat hy tydens sy reis deur The Beagle gehou het: '' s Nags ondervind ek 'n aanval (want dit verdien nie minder 'n naam) van die Benchuca ('n spesie van Reduvius) die groot swart gogga van die Pampas. Dit is die walglikste om sagte vleuellose insekte te voel, ongeveer 'n sentimeter lank, wat oor jou liggaam kruip. Voordat hulle suig, is hulle redelik dun, maar word daarna rond en opgeblaas van bloed, en in hierdie toestand word hulle maklik verpletter. Hulle kom ook voor in die noordelike deel van Chili en in Peru. Een wat ek by Iquique gekry het, was baie leeg. As dit op die tafel neergelê word, en alhoewel dit omring is deur mense, sou 'n vetterige insek dadelik sy suig trek, 'n lading maak en, indien toegelaat, bloed trek. Geen pyn is deur die wond veroorsaak nie. Dit was nuuskierig om na sy liggaam te kyk tydens die suig, aangesien dit in minder as tien minute verander het, van so plat soos 'n wafel tot 'n bolvormige vorm. Hierdie een feesmaal, waarvoor die benchuca aan een van die beamptes geskuldig was, het dit vier maande lank vet gehou, maar na die eerste twee weke was die insek redelik gereed om nog 'n suig te kry "[43]. Op grond van hierdie ontmoeting met 'n soengogga en sy langdurige maag- en senuweesimptome, is daar selfs 'n veronderstelling dat Darwin later in sy lewe aan Chagas -siekte ly. Chagas -siekte is egter 'n onwaarskynlike diagnose vir Darwin se chroniese siekte, aangesien die simptome verdwyn het namate hy ouer word, aangesien dit blykbaar nie een van die tipiese chagasiese simptome het nie, en dat hy sommige van die simptome reeds voor die Beagle -reis gehad het [37] . Ten spyte van al hierdie verslae, was die kritieke rol van triatomien -goggas by die oordrag van Chagas -siekte tot 1909 onontdek.

20ste eeu

In 1908, tydens 'n veldtog teen malaria ter ondersteuning van die bou van 'n spoorlyn in die noorde van die deelstaat Minas Gerais, is die Brasiliaanse higiënis en bakterioloog Carlos Chagas (1879-1934) (figuur 1) deur 'n spoorweg bewus gemaak ingenieur van groot bloed suigende insekte wat in groot hoeveelhede in plaaslike wonings gewoon het en slapende mense verkieslik in die gesig gebyt het [44]. Om te sien of hierdie goggas moontlike patogene bevat, het Chagas dit ontleed en talle trypanosome in hul agterpoot gevind wat hy genoem het T. cruzi ter ere van sy mentor, die Brasiliaanse dokter en bakterioloog Oswaldo Cruz (1872-1917) (Figuur 2) [45]. Sommige besmette insekte is na Cruz in Rio de Janeiro gestuur, waar hulle toegelaat is om marmosetape te byt. Binne 20-30 dae het die ape besmet geraak en baie trypanosome in hul bloed opgespoor [44]. Kort daarna het Chagas ook ontdek dat die parasiet verskeie ander laboratoriumdiere aansteeklik was [44]. Chagas was seker dat hy 'n patogene organisme van 'n menslike aansteeklike siekte gevind het, maar het nie geweet watter siekte dit is nie. Die deurbraak kom in 1909 toe hy ontbied is om 'n tweejarige meisie met die naam Berenice te ondersoek wat koorsig was met vergrote milt en lewer en geswelde limfknope [44]. By die eerste ondersoek is geen parasiete gevind nie, maar vier dae later, op die 14de April 1909, is talle trypanosome in haar bloed opgemerk met 'n soortgelyke morfologie as dié wat voorheen by besmette marmosetape aangetref is [44]. Chagas het 'n nuwe menslike siekte ontdek wat sy naam gou gedra het. Hy het 'n gedetailleerde kliniese beskrywing van die akute fase van die siekte gegee en die infeksie verbind met 'n paar chroniese simptome van die siekte, wat merkwaardig was, aangesien die chroniese fase van Amerikaanse trypanosomiasis gewoonlik dekades na die eerste enting verskyn het. T. cruzi (hersien in [46]). Interessant genoeg het sy eerste pasiënt Berenice nooit 'n vasgestelde chroniese Chagas -siekte ontwikkel nie en is hy op 73 -jarige ouderdom aan onverwante oorsake oorlede [47]. Sy is egter besmet met T. cruzi haar hele lewe lank, soos bevestig deur die isolasie van parasiete toe sy 55 en 71 jaar oud was [47]. In 1912 berig Chagas dat hy dit opgespoor het T. cruzi in 'n gordeldier en sodoende die eerste sylvatiese reservoirgasheer gevind [48]. Geleidelik word meer en meer silvatiese reservoirdiere van die Chagas -siekte ontdek wat bewys lewer van 'n ensoötiese siklus van T. cruzi.

Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano das Chagas in sy laboratorium by die Federal Serotherapy Institute in Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro. Die Brasiliaanse higiënis, wetenskaplike en bakterioloog het die protosoïese parasiet geïdentifiseer T. cruzi as die veroorsakende middel van die Chagas -siekte. Foto geneem uit Wikimedia Commons.


Die 7 000 jaar oue Chinchorro-mummies van die Andes-geskiedenis

'N Publikasie van die Archaeological Institute of America

Making the Dead Beautiful: Mummies as Art 16 Desember 1998
deur Bernardo T. Arriaza, Russell A. Hapke en Vivien G. Standen
November is die maand van die dooies. Die oorledenes is uit hul grafte verwyder, reggemaak met ryk klere en vere. Hulle het die dooies kos en drank gegee. Die mense het saam met die dooies gedans en gesing en hulle in die strate rondgegooi.

--Guam en aacuten Poma de Ayala
Nueva Cor & oacutenica en Buen Gobierno (1615)

Die 5000-jarige oorskot van 'n vrou, gemummifiseer in die swart styl (met 'n kleimasker bedek met swart mangaan) en omring deur walvisbeen, is in 1983 van die terrein van El Morro in die sentrum van Arica, Chili, teruggevind. (& Kopieer Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [GROTER BEELD]

Sendelinge wat in Peru werk na die Spaanse verowering, was walglik omdat die Inka die gemummifiseerde oorblyfsels van hul voorouers aanbid het. Tydens godsdienstige feeste sou die behoue ​​liggame van Inka -here uitbundig geklee, in die openbaar vertoon word en selfs bekers chicha, of mieliebier, om mekaar en die lewendes te rooster. Alhoewel die Spaanse hierdie praktyke verafsku het, speel dit 'n integrale rol in die lewens van die Andes -mense, vir wie die dood nie die einde van 'n lewe was nie, maar 'n tydperk van oorgang waartydens die siele van die oorledene versorg en vermaak moes word, vergemaklik hul deurgang na die hiernamaals. In ruil vir sulke gasvryheid is geglo dat hulle namens die lewendes sou intree by die gode om vrugbaarheid en goeie oeste te verseker.

Die Inka was die laaste in 'n lang ry van die Andesvolk wat die oorblyfsels van hul voorvaders bewaar en vertoon het wat begin het met die Chinchorro, 'n klein bekende vissersvolk wat 'n stuk van 400 myl van die Suid-Amerikaanse kus bewoon het-van Ilo in die suide van Peru tot Antofagasta in die noorde van Chili-meer as 7 000 jaar gelede.

Iewers rondom die begin van die vyfde millennium v.C. die Chinchorro het hul dooies begin mompel-die lyke uitgehaal en die bene besoedel. Die skelet word weer bymekaargemaak, versterk met stokke en interne organe word vervang met klei, kameelvesels en gedroogde plante, terwyl spiere herskep word met dun bondels wilde riete en seegras. Die lyk word dan met die vel van die oorledene "herbeklee", wat versigtig verwyder en opsy gesit sou word. Seeleeu -vel is bygevoeg om gapings te vul. Die hele liggaam is daarna bedek met 'n aspasta en afgewerk met 'n laag blink swart mangaan of later jare briljante rooi oker. Baie van die mummies het kleimaskers met sorgvuldig gemodelleerde gelaatstrekke en klei -geslagsorgane, en het uitgebreide kleihelms of pruike van menslike hare ongeveer twee voet lank. Tot dusver is ongeveer 282 Chinchorro -mummies by begraafplase soos El Morro, Camarones Cove en Patillos gevind. Hiervan is 149 geskep deur handwerkers van Chinchorro, die res is natuurlik uitgedroog in die warm, droë sand van die Atacama-woestyn.

Die vroegste bekende mummie, dié van 'n kind van 'n plek in die Camaronesvallei, 60 myl suid van Arica, dateer uit ca. 5050 v.C. Gedurende die volgende 3 500 jaar het Chinchorro-mummifikasie ontwikkel deur drie verskillende style-swart, rooi en modderbedek-voordat die praktyk iewers in die eerste eeu v.C.

'N Diorama te sien by die Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa toon die Chileense kus en die daaglikse aktiwiteite van vissers aan die einde van die Chinchorro -tydperk ongeveer 2000 jaar gelede. (& kopieer Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [GROTER BEELD]

Die swart styl (ongeveer 5050-2500 v.C.) was verreweg die mees komplekse. Die liggaam is heeltemal geskeur en weer bymekaargemaak, behalwe die bene en vel, vervang deur klei, riete en verskillende vulmateriaal. 'N Masker van klei met klein splete vir die oë en mond is oor die gesig geplaas om die liggaam die indruk te gee van 'n rustige sluimer. In 'n tegniese sin was 'n swart mummie, met die binneste raam van die been en hout, tussen- en aspasta -lae en die buitebedekking van die vel van die mens en die leeu meer 'n beeld as 'n mummie, 'n kunswerk. Vandag is hierdie mummies uiters broos as gevolg van die verbrokkeling van die ongebakte klei.

Ongeveer 2500 vC het swart uit die mode geraak, wat moontlik 'n verandering in ideologie weerspieël. Dit is ook moontlik dat mangaan skaars geword het. Vir die volgende vyf eeue is die lyke afgewerk met rooi oker, wat in oorvloed naby Arica voorkom. Die mummifikasieproses het ook verander. Die lyke is nie heeltemal ontwortel nie, net soos met die swart mummies. In plaas daarvan is die kop verwyder om die brein te onttrek, terwyl netjies snye op die arms, bene en buik gemaak is om spiere en interne organe te verwyder, wat vervang is met riete, klei, stokke en lama -bont. Nadat die lyk ingevul is, is snye met menslike hare vasgemaak met 'n kaktus -ruggraatnaald. Die liggaamsholtes in baie rooi mummies toon tekens van brand, wat daarop dui dat hulle met gloeiende kole gedroog is. Met die rooi styl kom ook 'n verandering in die beeldhouwerk van die klei gesigmaskers. Oop mond en oë gee 'n gevoel van waaksaamheid eerder as slaap. The open mouth may foreshadow the Inka practice of feeding and talking to the ancestors. It may have also served to ease the return of the soul should it wish to reinhabit the body.

A group of mummies excavated at the El Morro-1 site in 1983 includes two adults and three children. The adults and two of the children were mummified in the black style some 5,000 years ago. The child, at bottom, was mummified in the red style a millennium later. (© Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [LARGER IMAGE]

By the end of the third millennium, complex mummification had ceased among the Chinchorro and bodies were simply desiccated, covered with a thick layer of mud, and buried.

Wear and tear, especially on the black and red mummies, as well as extensive repairs and repainting, suggest that they may have been displayed in family or communal shrines or used in processions for many years before being interred in groups of four, five, or six individuals, likely related. Few burial goods were placed in the graves, but most objects present were associated with fishing--harpoons, shell and cactus fishhooks, weights, and basketry.

Why did these ancient people go to such extraordinary lengths to preserve their dead? Though we have no written records of the ancient Chinchorro, we believe that their relationship with the dead was much like that of their Inka descendants, the mummies providing that vital link between this world and the next. But these well-preserved remains may have served another purpose as well. We believe that they represent the earliest form of religious art found in the Americas.

The hand of a child, naturally mummified, is wrapped with reeds. (© Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [LARGER IMAGE]

It is not surprising that the Chinchorro mummies have not been viewed as works of art, but as an unusual mortuary expression of an early Andean people. In many cultures icons exist as part of propitiation rites rather than as items to be collected. Religious art is then the expression of the believers attempting to reach the gods. The symbolism in religious art is context-specific, often associated with mythical heroes, deities, or ancestors. However, the icon is often not as important as what it represents.

How then do the Chinchorro mummies fit this paradigm of religious art? We see the black and red Chinchorro mummies as art because of the plasticity of their shapes, colors, and the mixed media used in their creation. These statues, the encased skeletons of departed ones, became sacred objects to be tended and revered by Chinchorro mourners.

Leticia Latorre Orrego inspects the remains of an infant mummified in the black style. This mummy was exhumed from the El Morro-1 site in 1983. (© Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [LARGER IMAGE]

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Chinchorro mortuary practice was the democracy with which it was carried out. In contrast to the Egyptians, who mummified kings and nobility, the Chinchorro show no discrimination in age, sex, or social status in the mummification of their dead. The mummification of children is particularly fascinating, since in cultures throughout the world they receive little if any mortuary attention, especially those who never lived--the stillborn. The Chinchorro seemed to honor all human beings whether they contributed to society or not, paying particular attention to those who never achieved their potential. In the minds of the Chinchorro, life as a mummy may have been viewed as a second chance.

The Chinchorro mummies deserve much more attention than they have received from scholars, not only because they are now the oldest examples of intentionally mummified human remains, but because they are powerful artistic accomplishments of an ancient society.

Laboratory assistant Leticia Latorre Orrego of the Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa catalogs remains recovered in 1997 during the construction of a train depot in Arica. (© Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [LARGER IMAGE]

Bernardo T. Arriaza is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an adjunct researcher at the Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile. Hy is die skrywer van Beyond Death: The Chinchorro Mummies of Ancient Chile (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995). Russell A. Hapke, a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is director of Branson Illustrations, Co. Vivien G. Standen is a professor and researcher at the Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa, Universidad de Tarapaca, Arica, Chile. She has extensively studied the Chinchorro mummies of the El Morro-1 site. This research was in part supported by Fondecyt grant No. 1970525 and by National Geographic Society grant No. 5712-96.

Arriaza, B. Beyond Death: The Chinchorro Mummies of Ancient Chile. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995. In the first book written in English about the Chinchorro culture, the author reconstructs daily life, and challenges our assumption that preceramic cultures had a simple socioreligious life.

Allison, M. "Chile's Ancient Mummies." Natuurlike geskiedenis 94:10 (1995), pp. 74-81. Describes the events that led to the discovery of the Chinchorro mummies in 1983 and discusses mummification techniques and health.

Standen, V. "Temprana complejidad funeraria de la cultura Chinchorro (norte de Chile)." Latin American Antiquity 8:2 (1997), pp.134-156. Presents a detailed bioarchaeological study of the El Morro-1 site in Arica.

During the nineteenth century, mummies from the Andes were exhibited in Paris, where they inspired European artists to new heights. The crouched position of Inka mummies inspired Paul Gauguin's figures in the famous paintings Life and Death en Eve. The "expression of agony" in them, which is a normal phenomenon, did not escape the eyes of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, who immortalized the expression in a series of paintings entitled The Scream.


Centuries of Poison-Laced Water Gave These People a Tolerance to Arsenic

Any crime drama connoisseur can tell you: arsenic is a killer. At high doses, it can lead to skin lesions, liver damage, cancers, multi-organ failure and cardiac arrest. But most instances of arsenic poisoning don’t come from a murder plot. Rather, the naturally occurring toxin most typically enters the body through environmental or occupational exposure.

That’s the case for one remote village in the Andes, where arsenic leaches into the drinking water from volcanic bedrock below. When tested, the water in San Antonio de los Cobres was found to contain 20 times the level of arsenic deemed safe by the World Health Organization. And this isn’t a new development: analyses of 400- toه,000-year-old mummies from the region have shown evidence of high arsenic levels in their hair.

So, how have residents been able to survive for centuries at the site? As a new study indicates, the key is in their genes.

A team of scientists analyzed the DNA of 124 women from the northern Argentina village and discovered that “about a quarter of the population had picked up a cluster of mutations in the gene that processes arsenic into a less toxic form,” NPR reports. The genetic difference allows villagers to more quickly process the poison, thereby flushing it from their system faster than the average person. The researchers speculate that those with this genetically-enhanced arsenic tolerance were more likely to survive and pass the trait on to their descendants.

Researchers still aren’t completely sure how the mutation works within the body, and they haven’t yet performed testing on arsenic’s specific effects on the population of San Antonio de los Cobres. But, though genetic mutations providing protection from arsenic are found in peoples all over the world, this study is the first to show “evidence of a population uniquely adapted to tolerate the toxic chemical,” Oxford University Press reports.

This little village isn’t the only locale dealing with naturally high arsenic levels. Soos Nuusweek notes, “more than 100 million people are exposed to elevated levels of arsenic in their drinking water.” Though the U.S. has regulations and testing to prevent unsafe levels of the toxin in water, it still exists in mostly small concentrations in certain regions. To see where in the country trace elements are present, check out this map drawn up by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

About Laura Clark

Laura Clark is a writer and editor based in Pittsburgh. She's a blogger with Smart News and a senior editor at Pitt tydskrif.


An Unlikely Driver of Evolution: Arsenic

Around 11,000 years ago, humans first set foot in the driest place on Earth.

The Atacama Desert straddles the Andes Mountains, reaching into parts of Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Little rain falls on the desert — some spots haven’t received a single drop in recorded history.

But the people who arrived at the Atacama managed to turn it into a home. Some Atacameños, as they are known today, fished the Pacific. Others hunted game and herded livestock in the highlands. They mummified their dead, decorating them with ceremonial wigs before leaving them in the mountains.

Those mummies reveal a hidden threat in the Atacama. When scientists analyzed the hair in 7,000-year-old mummy wigs, they discovered high levels of arsenic. Through their lives, the Atacameños were gradually poisoned.

Arsenic can poison people today through exposure to pesticides and pollution. But arsenic is also naturally present in the water and soil in some parts of the world. The Atacama Desert, sitting on top of arsenic-rich volcanic rock, is one of them. The concentration of arsenic in Atacama drinking water can be 20 times higher than the level considered safe for human consumption.

Now a team of scientists has discovered that the arsenic of the Atacama Desert didn’t just make people sick. It also spurred their evolution.

In a new study in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, researchers report that over the years the Atacameños became more resistant to arsenic, thanks to natural selection. It is the first documented case of natural selection in humans for a defense against an environmental poison.

Jonathan K. Pritchard, a geneticist at Stanford University who was not involved in the study, called the results “convincing” and a new addition to “a very small number of known human selection signals.”

The liver defends the body against arsenic by tacking on extra carbon and hydrogen atoms to the element. Those extra atoms make arsenic less toxic and easier to draw out of the bloodstream in the kidneys, so that it can be flushed out of the body with urine.

In the late 1990s, researchers discovered that most Atacameños detoxify arsenic at an unusually high rate. Recently a group of researchers in Sweden went searching for the genes that make the Atacameños so unusual.

The scientists collected urine and blood from women in a village in Argentina called San Antonio de los Cobres. Levels of arsenic in their urine were used to determine how well each woman’s body detoxified the poison.

The scientists also sequenced over a million short segments of DNA in the women’s genomes. They looked for genetic variants shared by the women able to rid themselves of arsenic most efficiently.

These women all shared a distinctive stretch of DNA on chromosome 10, the scientists found. That stretch contains a gene called AS3MT, which encodes a liver enzyme that helps detoxify poisons.

“It’s a confirmation that this gene is really, really important for arsenic excretion,” said Mattias Jakobsson, a professor of genetics at Uppsala University and a co-author of the new study.

Dr. Jakobsson and his colleagues then compared the DNA in people from San Antonio de los Cobres with DNA from people in Peru and Colombia who don’t have to drink arsenic-laced water. For the most part, their DNA was nearly identical. There was only one major difference: the stretch of DNA that contains the AS3MT gene. About 70 percent of people in San Antonio de los Cobres have the variant that lets them resist arsenic.

When people first arrived in the Atacama Desert, the scientists concluded, a few of them carried this mutation. Because there was no way to avoid ingesting arsenic, the mutation immediately became important to their survival.

“If you settle in this area and there is one stream, there aren’t many options for getting water,” said Karin Broberg, a geneticist at the Karolinska Institute and a co-author of the study.

The Atacameños began to suffer from chronic arsenic poisoning, which can lead to cancer, skin lesions, and a weakening of the immune system in babies. The people who carried the protective mutation were able to detoxify the arsenic faster, perhaps by making extra copies of the AS3MT enzyme.

“It’s not a magic cure,” said Dr. Jakobsson. “If you have the protective variant, you’re not going to have a perfect life drinking a lot of arsenic. But the effects are probably smaller.”

That difference meant that people with the mutation survived to have more children than people who lacked it. Over thousands of years, natural selection made it more common.

Scientists have documented several cases in which humans have experienced strong natural selection over the past thousands of years. In some parts of Africa, some individuals evolved resistance to malaria. In northwestern Europe and elsewhere, natural selection favored genes that let adults digest milk. In Tibet, it favored genes for survival at high altitudes.

The new study on the Atacameños, by contrast, shows that toxic chemicals can also drive human evolution.

Understanding how it happened may help guide public health measures to reduce the suffering caused by arsenic poisoning, which threatens an estimated 200 million people worldwide. And it can also help scientists understand how we detoxify chemicals like arsenic, a process that is still fairly mysterious.

“If you find a signal of natural selection, then you know this has been a huge issue for human survival in the past,” Dr. Jakobsson said.


Landscape of Dead Bodies May Have Inspired First Mummies

Trekking through Chile's Atacama Desert 7000 years ago, hunter-gatherers known as the Chinchorro walked in the land of the dead. Thousands of shallowly buried human bodies littered the earth, their leathery corpses pockmarking the desolate surroundings. According to new research, the scene inspired the Chinchorro to begin mummifying their dead, a practice they adopted roughly 3000 years before the Egyptians embraced it.

Archaeologists have long studied how the Chinchorro made their mummies, the first in history, says ecologist Pablo Marquet of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. After removing the skin to be dried, the hunter-gatherers scooped out the organs and stuffed the body with clay, dried plants, and sticks. Once they reattached the skin, embalmers painted the mummy shiny black or red and put a black wig on its head. Covering the corpses' faces were clay masks, some molded into an open-mouthed expression that later inspired Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream.

Few scientists have tackled the mystery of why the Chinchorro started to mummify their dead in the first place. Complicated cultural practices such as mummification, Marquet says, tend to arise only in large, sedentary populations. The more people you have in one place, the more opportunity for innovation, development, and the spread of new ideas. The Chinchorro don't fit that mold. As nomadic hunter-gatherers, they formed groups of about only 100 people.

To solve the mystery, Marquet and his colleagues needed to go back in time. Using data from ice cores in the Andes, the researchers reconstructed the climate of the region where the Chinchorro lived: the northern coast of Chile and the southern coast of Peru, along the western edge of the Atacama Desert. Before 7000 years ago, the area was extremely arid, the team found, but then it went through a wetter period that lasted until about 4000 years ago. Analyses of carbon-dated Chinchorro artifacts, such as shell piles (known as middens) and mummies, suggest that the rainier conditions supported a larger population, peaking about 6000 years ago.

The team calculated, based on the demographics of hunter-gatherers, that a single Chinchorro group of roughly 100 people would produce about 400 corpses every century. These corpses, shallowly buried and exposed to the arid Atacama climate, would not have decomposed, but lingered. Given that the Chinchorro settled the Atacama coast roughly 10,000 years ago, the researchers argue that by the time the practice of mummification started about 7000 years ago, a staggering number of bodies would have piled up. A single person was likely to see several thousand naturally mummified bodies during his or her lifetime, the team reports online today in the Verrigtinge van die National Academy of Sciences. The number increased over the years, until mummies "became part of the landscape," Marquet says.

This constant exposure to natural mummies may have led to a cult of the dead involving artificial mummification. "The dead have a huge impact on the living," Marquet says, citing work by psychologists and sociologists that shows that exposure to dead bodies produces tangible psychological and social effects, often leading to religious practices. "There's a conflict between how you think of someone alive and dead," he says. Religious practices and ideas—such as funerals, wakes, and the belief in ghosts—help resolve that conflict. "Imagine living in the barren desert with barely anything, just sand and stone," he says. Barely anything, that is, except for hundreds, if not thousands, of dead bodies that never decay. One would feel "compelled somehow to relate" to the corpses, he says, speculating that the Chinchorro made mummies in order to come to terms with the continued presence of their dead. When the climate turned dry again and food supplies dwindled, Marquet says, the population dropped. The complex Chinchorro embalming practices also petered out around that time.

Vicki Cassman, an anthropologist and art conservator at the University of Delaware, Newark, who specializes in Andean archaeology, says she's impressed with the study's multidisciplinary approach and agrees that this could explain the Chinchorro practice of mummification. Applying an ecological population model to explain the development of mummification is a fresh approach and "as convincing an argument as we have been able to get to date." However, she says, our understanding of the ideological complexity that led to Chinchorro mummies still needs "fleshing out." "I know," she jokes. "Bad pun."

Emily Underwood

Emily is a contributing correspondent for Wetenskap, covering neuroscience.


Mummies, moai make Chile magical

Soon after exploring sacred sites of the beyond-bizarre Birdman Cult, I found myself again in stony awe. I was on perhaps the remotest inhabited island on Earth — dinky Easter Island — where a gaggle of ancient, far-famed stone-carved huge-headed “moai” statues blankly stared into space, a color-frenzied setting sun turning them supernaturally spectacular. (I was the size of one of their ears.)

If their pursed lips could talk, they’d tell about this isle’s wacky history of tribal warfare, long-fingernailed “Birdman” rulers and maybe cannibalism, but instead they mutely gazed atop stone altars on a grassy coastal plain, their backs to cobalt seas spraying against black lava rocks. To add to the this-can’t-be-real factor, a half-dozen of the island’s many friendly, well-fed stray dogs romped with each other in front of the hallowed megaliths. Then several wild stallions, manes flowing, galloped by hundreds of horses roam freely among the moai.

Moai and mummies. That’s what yanked me to two vastly different destinations in Chile. Before flying to globally known, Polynesian-flair Easter Island, I traveled to Chile’s little-known most northern city, Arica, to see the world’s oldest mummies and walk over glass atop an unearthed graveyard of an extinct people. In Easter Island, the marquee draw is 887 moai statues who still spellbindingly loom throughout the windswept unspoiled terrain.

This was a journey into two mystery-shrouded cultures. The prehistoric Chinchorro fisherfolk on mainland Chile elaborately mummified every dead soul in their society for reasons unknown. And on Easter Island, Rapa Nui natives between A.D. 1000 and 1600 deified VIP ancestors by chiseling statues up to 33 feet tall and 80 tons and somehow lugging them miles to ceremonial platforms, both brain-boggling feats.

The moai, Easter Island

There’s a mystical pull on this tantalizing South Pacific tropical outpost — it could be from its revered magnetic boulder, the “Navel of the World.” Or because Easter Island, which locals call by its Polynesian name, Rapa Nui, is in the blissful boonies. (To get here, it takes a six-hour, once-daily flight from Chile’s capital, Santiago. Before that, you’ll spend a day flying to Santiago from San Diego.)

Annexed by Chile in 1888, Easter Island — named by Europeans who dropped anchor that holiday in 1722 — is a scene-stealing, 63-square-mile wide-open expanse of Ireland-reminiscent green pastures, rolling hills and occasional cows blocking roads. The only town, funky Hanga Roa, is basically two parallel streets, one abutting the pristine, jagged-cliff coast where you’ll tread past a rustic cemetery adorned by a sculpted wood rooster before coming upon a grouping of moai. A lone sentinel has been restored with peering white coral eyes.

“When the eyes were put in, the moai came alive and had the spiritual power,” my guide Ata said. “They had their backs to the ocean so they could watch over and protect the villages.”

My neck hair rose at the volcanic quarry where nearly 400 moai remain scattered in various stages of completion, just as when, who knows why, they were abandoned by obsessive craftsmen 500 years ago. Like a freaky moai memorial garden, some tiki-ish behemoths are buried by erosion up to their shoulders. Apparently, moai went from representing exalted ancestors to being pure ego trips — an unfinished moai that probably took 20 years of labor measured seven stories. No wonder things turned ugly. The Rapa Nui had deforested the island, and with food and water scarce, clans began warring and possibly eating each other. They knocked down rival tribes’ moai, decapitating statues and gouging out the all-potent eyes.

Enter the Birdman Cult. Yep, this lost civilization gets kookier. To stop the killing and choose a ruler, each clan picked a competitor who raced each other to find the season’s first sooty tern egg. “They had to jump off a steep cliff and then swim in shark-infested waters. Many died,” said our guide. We were looking out from the cult’s petroglyph-adorned Orongo ceremonial village to the islet where the winner strapped the egg in a tiny basket around his forehead before swimming back. His patron became the Birdman to look the part, that guy shaved his head and grew his fingernails to mimic claws.

The next day, we were bowled over by the blockbuster — Ahu Tongariki’s 15 furrowed-brow, volcanic-gray, tsunami-surviving rock stars backlit by a brilliant blue sky (one moai oddly resembled Richard Nixon). As if this island hadn’t already possessed me, when I returned that night to the energy-ooming Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa — it is styled after the Birdman Cult’s stone ceremonial village — I ran into three chestnut-colored wild horses trotting past the moonlit pool. You can’t begin to dream this stuff up.

The mummies, Arica

I’m mesmerized by mummies. So before Easter Island, I journeyed to an authentic region of Chile near Bolivia and Peru and gazed at archaeological A-listers — clay-coated 7,000-year-old beings, some with open mouths reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s acclaimed painting “The Scream.” The mummies of South America’s Chinchorro culture — up for UNESCO World Heritage consideration — are the oldest on Earth, predating the Egyptians by 2,000 years, and so insanely intricate they’re considered mortician works of art. In the laid-back coastal city of Arica, mummies have been dug up all over the place.

What makes them so significant is that the Chinchorro sophisticatedly prepared everyone, including miscarried fetuses, for their afterlife (the Egyptians only mummified kings and the elite). And what a process — as far back as 5000 B.C., the Chinchorro removed the dearly departed’s brains and organs, stuffed their insides with grass, ash and animal hair, used sticks to strengthen the body, delicately reattached their skin, affixed a wig of human hair, applied a clay paste and painted the body black. You can see 120 mummies (some parts so preserved, fleshy fingers are intact) at the University of Tarapaca’s well-designed Museo Arqueologico. Scholars suggest the mummies may have been worshipped as ancestors or displayed by relatives who interacted with them.

Elsewhere in town, I walked on a glass floor over the remains of 32 Chinchorro men, women and babies lying in dirt in their graveyard. Items to be used in the hereafter, such as vegetable fiber mats, shell fishing hooks and seabird feathers, accompanied them. The millenniums-old mummies, many rotted to skeletons, were discovered in 2004 when a colonial house was being excavated for a hotel. Too fragile to be moved, they now comprise the university’s Museo de Sitio Colon 10.

To see more of Chile (sans mummies), I’d adventure out from Arica, traveling hours by car on dusty, two-lane Highway 11 through arid landscapes dotted with llamas, alpacas, camel-like vicuñas, rare “candelabra cactus” and sleepy Andean villages. I gasped (14,820 feet altitude!) at the beauty of Lake Chungara, ringed by majestic snow-capped volcanoes reflected in mirrored waters. A perfect respite before jetting to enigmatic Easter Island and pondering if multi-ton moai could’ve “walked” to their anointed spots.


Chinchorro Mummies: Bodies 'Littered The Earth' In Chile's Atacama Desert 7,000 Years Ago, Study Says

Trekking through Chile's Atacama Desert 7000 years ago, hunter-gatherers known as the Chinchorro walked in the land of the dead. Thousands of shallowly buried human bodies littered the earth, their leathery corpses pockmarking the desolate surroundings. According to new research, the scene inspired the Chinchorro to begin mummifying their dead, a practice they adopted roughly 3000 years before the Egyptians embraced it.

Archaeologists have long studied how the Chinchorro made their mummies, the first in history, says ecologist Pablo Marquet of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. After removing the skin to be dried, the hunter-gatherers scooped out the organs and stuffed the body with clay, dried plants, and sticks. Once they reattached the skin, embalmers painted the mummy shiny black or red and put a black wig on its head. Covering the corpses' faces were clay masks, some molded into an open-mouthed expression that later inspired Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream .

Few scientists have tackled the mystery of why the Chinchorro started to mummify their dead in the first place. Complicated cultural practices such as mummification, Marquet says, tend to arise only in large, sedentary populations. The more people you have in one place, the more opportunity for innovation, development, and the spread of new ideas. The Chinchorro don't fit that mold. As nomadic hunter-gatherers, they formed groups of about only 100 people.

To solve the mystery, Marquet and his colleagues needed to go back in time. Using data from ice cores in the Andes, the researchers reconstructed the climate of the region where the Chinchorro lived: the northern coast of Chile and the southern coast of Peru, along the western edge of the Atacama Desert. Before 7000 years ago, the area was extremely arid, the team found, but then it went through a wetter period that lasted until about 4000 years ago. Analyses of carbon-dated Chinchorro artifacts, such as shell piles (known as middens) and mummies, suggest that the rainier conditions supported a larger population, peaking about 6000 years ago.

The team calculated, based on the demographics of hunter-gatherers, that a single Chinchorro group of roughly 100 people would produce about 400 corpses every century. These corpses, shallowly buried and exposed to the arid Atacama climate, would not have decomposed, but lingered. Given that the Chinchorro settled the Atacama coast roughly 10,000 years ago, the researchers argue that by the time the practice of mummification started about 7000 years ago, a staggering number of bodies would have piled up. A single person was likely to see several thousand naturally mummified bodies during his or her lifetime, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . The number increased over the years, until mummies "became part of the landscape," Marquet says.

This constant exposure to natural mummies may have led to a cult of the dead involving artificial mummification. "The dead have a huge impact on the living," Marquet says, citing work by psychologists and sociologists that shows that exposure to dead bodies produces tangible psychological and social effects, often leading to religious practices. "There's a conflict between how you think of someone alive and dead," he says. Religious practices and ideas—such as funerals, wakes, and the belief in ghosts—help resolve that conflict. "Imagine living in the barren desert with barely anything, just sand and stone," he says. Barely anything, that is, except for hundreds, if not thousands, of dead bodies that never decay. One would feel "compelled somehow to relate" to the corpses, he says, speculating that the Chinchorro made mummies in order to come to terms with the continued presence of their dead. When the climate turned dry again and food supplies dwindled, Marquet says, the population dropped. The complex Chinchorro embalming practices also petered out around that time.

Vicki Cassman, an anthropologist and art conservator at the University of Delaware, Newark, who specializes in Andean archaeology, says she's impressed with the study's multidisciplinary approach and agrees that this could explain the Chinchorro practice of mummification. Applying an ecological population model to explain the development of mummification is a fresh approach and "as convincing an argument as we have been able to get to date." However, she says, our understanding of the ideological complexity that led to Chinchorro mummies still needs "fleshing out." "I know," she jokes. "Bad pun."

ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science


Kyk die video: Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs