The Oldest Mummies in the World

Archaeologists research the Chinchorro mummies

What are the oldest mummies in the world? Ancient Egypt was considered to be the origin of the practice of mummification. In Chile, however, spectacular graves containing mummies a thousand years older than those of the Egyptians, are being unearthed.

While many cultures throughout the world have sought to focus on preserving the dead elite, the Chinchorro tradition performed mummification on all members of their society, making them archaeologically significant.

The decision of egalitarian preservation is proven in the mummification of the relatively less productive members of society.

Children, infants, elderly and even miscarried fetuses were all mummified. The Chinchorro often gave the children and babies more elaborate mummification treatments.

This should signify the fact that the Chinchirro welcomed everyone in the afterlife, not just the elite like in later Egypt.

So what is the oldest mummy ever found?

While the earliest mummy that has been found in Egypt dated around 3000 BC, the oldest anthropogenically modified Chinchorro mummy dates from around 5050 BC.

The oldest found naturally mummified mummy recovered from the Atacama Desert is dated around 7020 BC, given the name the Acha man.

The Oldest Mummies in the World
  • Info
  • Release date2001
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)John Purdie
  • Production companyCicada Films