Burial Rites: Mortuary Practices of the Prehistoric Cultures of Coastal Northern Chile

Note: This lecture will contain images of human remains


The world's oldest artificial mummies are found along the desert coast of Chile. The Chinchorro were hunter/fishers who lived on the coast of northern Chile and southern Peru from 9,000 to 4,000 years ago.

During that period they developed a complex mummification process that is far older than that of the Egyptians. Through time the resident population developed culturally and economically and this included several major shifts in funerary practises - from the complex Chinchorro mummies to the elaborate mummy bundles dating from the Tiwanaku and Inca periods that included fine textiles and grave goods.
The talk will discuss the archaeological background of this region before concentrating on the range of funerary and mortuary rituals that are commonly seen today. We will also discuss how this area was regularly visited by collectors during the 19th and early 20th century. People were fascinated by mummies which resulted in them being traded throughout the developed world.

About the speaker
Christopher Carter recently completed a PhD at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU. His thesis was titled ‘The Economy of Prehistoric Northern Chile’. Since gaining his initial degree in 1996, Chris has worked in commercial archaeology, acting as a heritage advisor for major projects such as mining and infrastructure developments. His research interests lie in Latin America, particularly the archaic and formative periods of the Atacama region of northern Chile and southern Peru. Diverting his attention from the commercial world, Chris also teaches a range of extra-curricular courses at the ANU Centre for Continuing Education, focussing on the archaeology of Latin America and Spain. He has also taken teaching outside the classroom by leading study tours and since 1996 Chris has led over 40 international study tours to a range of areas including Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Paraguay, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Spain, Ireland, Greece and Turkey.

The lecture will be followed by light food and beverages. Free and open to the public.
No RSVP required.

Updated:  7 February 2017/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications