Chinchorro mumije Anda stare 7000 godina

Chinchorro mumije Anda stare 7000 godina


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Mumije drevnog Egipta su vjerovatno najpoznatije mumije na svijetu. Oni, međutim, nisu najstariji za koje znamo. Chinchorros iz Južne Amerike počeo je čuvati svoje mrtve prije otprilike 7000 godina, a njihove mumije postale su jedno od čuda andske arheologije.

Chinchorros su bili ljudi koji su nastanjivali obalu pustinje Atacama u sjevernom Čileu i južnom Peruu između 7000. i 1500. godine prije nove ere. Ljudi ove kulture su se za život oslanjali na ribolov, lov i skupljanje. Dok najstarija poznata mjesta Chinchorro datiraju iz 7000. godine prije Krista, mumifikacija, na osnovu trenutnih dokaza, datira iz 5000. godine prije Krista. Mumije Chinchorro prvi je put 1917. identificirao njemački arheolog Max Uhle. Daljnja iskopavanja pokazala su da su se takve mumije širile uz obalu i koncentrirale između Arice i Kameronesa. Međutim, 1983. godine otkriven je najveći i najbolje očuvani nalaz mumija Chinchorro. Do ovog otkrića nisu došli arheolozi, već vodovodno preduzeće Arica prilikom postavljanja novog cjevovoda u podnožju El Morra.

Dok je Uhle u početku identificirao tri kategorije mumifikacije kako bi s vremenom pokazao sve veću složenost, arheolozi su od tada proširili njegovo objašnjenje. U skladu s tim, dvije najčešće metode korištene u mumificiranju Chinchorra bile su crna i crvena mumija.

Tehnika crne mumije se koristila otprilike 5000 godina prije Krista. do 3000 godina prije Krista To je uključivalo komadanje, pri čemu su mrtvima prvo uklonjene glava, ruke i noge. Zatim je tijelo sušeno toplinom, a meso je potpuno ogoljeno s kostiju. Lubanja je zatim prerezana na pola, približno u visini očiju, kako bi se uklonio mozak. Nakon sušenja lubanje, bila je nabijena materijalom i vezana zajedno. Ostatak tela je takođe sastavljen. Za jačanje udova i kičmenog stuba korišteni su štapići ispod kože. Tijelo je također bilo prepuno materijala poput gline i perja. Lobanja je zatim ponovo pričvršćena na ponovo sastavljeno tijelo. Pasta od bijelog pepela korištena je za pokrivanje tijela, a također i za popunjavanje praznina nastalih postupkom ponovnog sastavljanja. Nadalje, ovo je korišteno za popunjavanje normalnih crta lica osobe.

Umjetnički prikaz procesa mumifikacije. Izvor slike .

Tehnika crvene mumije koristila se otprilike 2500 godina prije nove ere. do 2000. godine p.n.e. Ovo je bila potpuno drugačija metoda u odnosu na tehniku ​​crne mumije, jer su Chinchorros napravili ureze na trupu i ramenima mrtvih kako bi uklonili unutrašnje organe i osušili tjelesnu šupljinu. Da bi se uklonio mozak, glava je odsječena od tijela. Međutim, poput tehnike crne mumije, tijelo je bilo napunjeno raznim materijalima kako bi izgledalo više poput čovjeka. Osim toga, štapovi su korišteni za pružanje strukturne podrške. Rezovi su zatim zašiveni, a glava vraćena na telo. Perika, napravljena od resica od ljudske kose, stavljena je na glavu i držana na mjestu 'šeširom' napravljenim od crne gline. Sve ostalo, osim ove perike, a često i lica, tada bi bilo obojeno crvenim okerom.

Chinchorro mumija. Izvor slike .

Čini se da mumije Chinchorro odražavaju duhovna vjerovanja drevnih ljudi Chinchorra, iako je nepoznat tačan razlog zašto su mumificirali svoje mrtve. Neki učenjaci tvrde da se radi o očuvanju ostataka njihovih najmilijih za zagrobni život, dok je druga općeprihvaćena teorija da je postojao svojevrsni kult predaka, budući da postoje dokazi o tome kako su tijela putovala s grupama i da su bila smještena u časni položaji tokom velikih rituala, kao i kašnjenje u samom konačnom ukopu.

Jedna od najupečatljivijih karakteristika Chinchorrosovih mumija je razmjera na kojem su to učinjene. Za razliku od starih Egipćana, koji su mumificiranje rezervirali za kraljevske porodice i elitu, zajednica Chinchorro je svima, bez obzira na dob ili status, dodijelila ovaj sveti obred. Odluka o egalitarnom očuvanju dokazana je mumificiranjem svih članova društva, uključujući muškarce, žene, starije osobe, djecu, dojenčad i pobačene fetuse. Zapravo, često je slučaj da su djeca i bebe primali najsloženije tretmane mumifikacije.

Jedno objašnjenje ove egalitarne pogrebne prakse su klimatske promjene. Kako je pustinja Atacama jedno od najsušnijih mjesta na svijetu, leševi bi se prirodno sačuvali. Štaviše, kako su Chinchorros sahranjivali svoje mrtve u plitkim grobovima, vjerovatno je da su tijela djelomično izložena vjetru. Kako se razina morske vode povećavala prije otprilike 6000 do 7000 godina, povećala se i količina morskih resursa, što je zauzvrat podržalo veću populaciju. Kako se veličina grupe povećavala, došlo bi do veće razmjene ideja, što bi dovelo do većeg prosperiteta i kulturne složenosti, a jedna od njih bila bi praksa mumifikacije. Možda je jedan od najzanimljivijih aspekata Chinchorrosa taj što se, na osnovu dostupnih dokaza, čini da društvena hijerarhija nije razvijena, za razliku od drugih ranih civilizacija. Kako je ova kultura uspjela ostati egalitarna milenijumima i funkcionirati na društvenom nivou bez hijerarhije nešto je što desetljećima intrigira arheologe i antropologe. Istraživanja ovog aspekta njihove kulture su u toku.

Istaknuta slika: Glava mumije Chinchorro . Izvor fotografije: Ovo je Čile .

Od Ḏḥwty


Šta su najstarije mumije na svijetu držale pod omotom?

Otprilike 2000 godina prije nego što su Egipćani počeli mumificirati svoje mrtve, ljudi koji pripadaju kulturi Chinchorro već su razvili prilično sofisticirane metode za balzamiranje.  Sada, izvještava  Giovanna Fleitas na Associated  France-Presse, istraživači koriste medicinsku tehnologiju kako bi otkrili povijest ovih očuvanih leševa.

Petnaest mumija, od kojih su mnoge bile bebe i djeca, nedavno su prevezene u kliniku Los  Condes   u Santiagu, gdje su ih istraživači pregledali pomoću CT skenera kako bi proučili njihove krhke oblike bez nanošenja štete. “Skupili smo hiljade slika sa preciznošću manjom od jednog milimetra, ” glavni radiolog Marcelo  Galvez  tells  Fleitas. “Sljedeća faza je pokušaj virtualnog seciranja ovih tijela, bez dodirivanja, što će nam pomoći da ih sačuvamo još 500.000 godina. ”

Istraživači se također nadaju da će digitalno rekonstruirati crte lica i muskulaturu mumija kako bi otkrili kako su izgledale u životu. Uzeli su i uzorak kože i kose za DNK testiranje, za koje se nadaju da će im pomoći da povežu mumije "Chinchorro" sa savremenom populacijom u Južnoj Americi.

Kultura  Chinchorro   u cjelini pomalo je misterija za moderne arheologe. Vjeruje se da su ljudi pecali, lovili i okupljali se, živeći uz obalu pustinje  Atacama   u današnjem sjevernom Čileu i južnom Peruu. Osim što mumificiraju svoje mrtve, ljudi koji pripadaju Chinchorro kulturi poznati su po tome što su od poliranih školjki izradili udice za ribolov, potopljene uz pomoć kamena utega.

Mumije koje su stvorili, međutim, razlikovale su se od onih koje su sačuvali stari Egipćani.  Fleitas  objašnjava da će  Chinchorro   ukloniti kožu pokojnika, a zatim pažljivo izvaditi mišiće i organe otkrivajući kostur. Zatim bi napunili tijelo biljkama, glinom i drvetom prije nego što bi zašili kožu i prekrili lice maskom.

Ali ima još mnogo toga za naučiti o ovim drevnim očuvanim bićima, a vrijeme postaje sve manje. Kustosica univerziteta  Tarapaca  musejLA Times. Muzej je pozvao Ralpha Mitchella, kustosa artefakata s Harvarda, koji je uzgajao bakterije na mumijama.

Otkrio je da su uobičajeni kožni mikroorganizmi koji su inače dobroćudni u suhoj pustinjskoj klimi "Atakama" počeli konzumirati mumije i kolagen zbog sve vlažnije klime u sjevernim regijama. Nove mumije pronađene na mjestima iskopavanja u blizini#160Arike i#160 već pokazuju znakove propadanja mumije pronađene u#1601980 -ima, koje su u početku bile netaknute, počele su se#8220tapiti ” u posljednjoj deceniji.

“Koliko je ovo širok fenomen, ne znamo ’t. Slučaj  Arica   prvi je primjer za koji znam da je došlo do pogoršanja uzrokovanog klimatskim promjenama ", kaže Mitchell za#160Kraul. “Ali nema razloga misliti da ne oštećuje svuda nasljedne materijale. Utiče na sve ostalo. ”

Konzervatori trenutno eksperimentiraju s kombinacijama vlažnosti i temperature kako bi pomogli očuvanju mumija, izvještaji Kraula  . Vivien  Standen, profesor antropologije u  Tarapaca  i stručnjak za  Chinchorro  , nema nade. “I ’m nisam optimističan da ih možemo spasiti, ” kaže  Kraul. “Od trenutka kada su izvađeni iz zemlje, počinju se pogoršavati. ”

Novi muzej vrijedan 56 miliona dolara, u kojem će biti i mumije, trebao bi biti otvoren 2020. godine, izvještava Kraul. Nadamo se da mogu usporiti ili zaustaviti degradaciju tako što će svako tijelo ugraditi u vlastitu kocku#160 kontroliranu temperaturom i vlagom.

O Jasonu Daleyju

Jason Daley je pisac iz Madisona, Wisconsin, specijaliziran za prirodnu historiju, nauku, putovanja i okoliš. Njegov rad pojavio se u Otkrijte, Popular Science, Spolja, Men's Journal, i drugi časopisi.


Klimatske promjene možda su dovele do najranijih južnoameričkih mumija

Nekoliko hiljada godina prije nego što su Egipćani sačuvali neke od svojih mrtvih, mnogo jednostavnije društvo napravilo je prve poznate mumije.

Chinchorros, prvi proizvođači mumija, živjeli su prije oko 7.000 godina u Južnoj Americi, na obali blizu granice između današnjeg Perua i Čilea. Pustinjsko područje u kojem su živjeli bilo je tako suho, mrtvi ljudi su se prirodno pretvorili u mumije.

Kultura Chinchorro prostirala se uz obalu duž današnje granice Čilea i Perua

“Kad jednom umrete, ostajete tu, "#8221 kaže čileanski ekolog Pablo Marquet, koji proučava Chinchorros i područje u kojem su živjeli. “Ne nestajete ’ta nestajete zbog raspadanja koje se događa u mnogim drugim okruženjima. ”

U jednom trenutku, Chinchorros je prestao prepuštati prirodi i počeo je mumificirati svoje mrtve. Počeli su ih oblačiti perikama, glinom i bojom.

Prije nekoliko godina, Marquet se pridružio arheolozima i paleoantropolozima kako bi odgovorili na to centralno pitanje.

Ono što su oni znali je da su rani Činčori bili lovci-sakupljači. Sahranjivali su svoje mrtve, ali u plitkim grobovima samo otprilike stopa ili dva od površine. Bilo je potrebno samo malo erozije da se ti mrtvi ljudi otkriju.

Umjesto očuvanja mesa, ljudi iz Chinchorra su koristili pastu od pepela infundiranog manganom za oblikovanje "tijela"#8221 na oguljenim kosturima, čiji su unutrašnji organi zamijenjeni zemljom.

“ [U] većini drugih populacija, mrtvi nestaju i ponovo se recikliraju u sistem, ” Marquet kaže, “ ali ovdje ostaju. ”

Živi su nailazili i na mrtve kada su kopali nove grobove. Bolesti i trovanje arsenom iz vode za piće bili su sve brojniji, dodajući mnogo leševa u pejzaž. Zapravo, Marquet i njegov tim izračunali su da bi se prosječna osoba susrela s ovim prirodnim mumijama barem stotine puta u životu.

“Pitanje je bilo zašto su počeli mumificirati svoje mrtve, a mislim da je ključni uvid došao iz promatranja njihovog okruženja, "#8221 Marquet kaže.

Kaže da misli da je gledanje svih ovih mumija inspirisalo Chinchorros rituale smrti#8217. Njegov tim je također pregledao podatke o klimi prije više hiljada godina.

“Počeli smo vidjeti podatke i sve je izgledalo kao savršeno usklađivanje,##8221 kaže. “Nismo mogli ’ ne vjerovati. ”

Prema podacima, čini se da su Chinchorros počeli čuvati i ukrašavati leševe za vrijeme vlažnije klime. Bilo bi više vode i više morskih plodova u blizini za podršku većoj populaciji. Artefakti iz tog doba potvrđuju da se stanovništvo u to vrijeme povećalo.

“Ako imate više pojedinaca u populaciji i oni počnu komunicirati, vjerojatnije je da će se pojaviti nove ideje, a kad se pojave nove ideje, one će se brže širiti, "#8221 Marquet kaže.

Grob dve odrasle i dve odojčadi mumije Chinchorro, verovatno deo iste porodice. Arheolozi vjeruju da su Chinchorros možda mumificirali svoje mrtve kao način da se nose sa upornošću svojih predaka i tijela#8217 u sušnoj pustinji Atacama.

Ideja je da je gostoljubivije okruženje dalo ljudima više slobodnog vremena. Više im nije bilo potrebno sve vrijeme za lov i sakupljanje. Imali su vremena brinuti se za svoje mrtve i prenijeti svoje tehnike balzamiranja na druge.

Nalazi se objavljuju u časopisu Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ove mumije još nisu otkrile sve svoje tajne. Istraživači i dalje pokušavaju objasniti zašto su odojčad i fetusi bili među južnoameričkim mumijama, a druge kulture su ovaj tretman rezervirale za svoju elitu.


Pregled

Porijeklo T. cruzi

Filogenetska analiza 18S rRNA sekvenci ukazuje na to da su tripanosomi pljuvačke ( T. brucei klada koja grupiše one tripanosome koji se prenose ugrizom) odvojena od sterkorarijanskih tripanosoma (T. cruzi klada koja grupiše one tripanosome koji se prenose fekalnom kontaminacijom) prije otprilike 100 milijuna godina [10]. Budući da su se u isto vrijeme Južna Amerika, Antarktika i Australija odvojile od Afrike, sugerirano je da T. cruzi i srodni tripanosomi evoluirali su izolirano u ranih kopnenih sisavaca [11]. Ova je ideja poznata kao hipoteza o južnom superkontinentu. Na osnovu ovog scenarija moglo bi se očekivati ​​velika raznolikost T. cruzi klipni tripanosomi u južnoameričkih kopnenih sisavaca pod uvjetom da su bili prisutni na kontinentu od raspada južnog super-kontinenta prije 40 miliona godina [11]. Međutim, to nije slučaj. Ne bona fide vrste su otkrivene u T. cruzi klada od bilo kojeg južnoameričkog kopnenog sisavca do danas [11], odnosno nije došlo do genotipova specifičnih za vrstu domaćina koji izazivaju koevoluciju. Osim toga, kao T. cruzi klipni tripanosomi prisutni su i kod kopnenih sisavaca iz Afrike i Australije [11], uloga geografske izolacije u evoluciji T. cruzi je upitno.

Najnoviji molekularni dokazi ukazuju na to T. cruzi je evoluirao iz tripanosoma šišmiša, scenarija poznatog kao hipoteza sjetvenog šišmiša [11]. Ovu ideju podupire činjenica da je najbliži genetski okarakterizirani rođak T. cruzi je T. marinkellei od južnoameričkih šišmiša [10, 12–14]. Obje su se razišle prije otprilike 6,5-8,5 miliona godina [15, 16] i mogle bi se smatrati podvrstom (tj. T. c. cruzi i T. c. marinkellei) [17]. Nedavno opisano T. erneyi i T. livingstonei pronađeno u šišmiša iz Mozambika [18, 19] i T. dionisii iz slepog miša iz Starog i Novog sveta [10, 12, 14, 20] takođe su bliski rođaci T. cruzi. Štaviše, T. cruzi otkriven je u južnoameričkih šišmiša [12, 21, 22] s jednim specifičnim genotipom, TcBat, koji je do sada pronađen samo u šišmiša [23]. TcBat je najbliže povezan sa T. cruzi TcI koji se prvenstveno povezuje s oposumima i konoznim bubama iz roda Rhodnius u arborealnim ekotopima [11]. Na osnovu ovih činjenica razumno je pretpostaviti da je zajednički predak članova T. cruzi clade je bio tripanosom šišmiša. Vjerojatno su šišmiši zaraženi tripanozomima kolonizirali Južnu Ameriku prije otprilike 7-10 milijuna godina preko Sjeverne Amerike [24]. Zatim su se različite nezavisne loze tripanosoma šišmiša prešle iz šišmiša u kopnene sisavce, vjerojatno olakšane beskičmenjacima koji se hrane i šišmišima i kopnenim sisavcima koji žive u istim arborealnim ekotopima [10]. Jedan takav prekidač doveo je do T. cruzi u pliocenu [25]. Diversifikacija T. cruzi u sadašnje loze DTU-a TcI-TcVI i TcBat započeli su nedavno prije otprilike 1-3 milijuna godina [25].

Predkolumbovsko vrijeme

Postoje dokazi da su se ljudi ubrzo nakon naseljavanja Južne Amerike zarazili T. cruzi. Najranije otkrivanje a T. cruzi infekcija kod čovjeka dolazi od mumije Chinchorro stare 9000 godina putem PCR amplifikacije kinetoplazidnih DNK sekvenci [26]. Chinchorros su bili prvi identificirani ljudi koji su se naselili duž južnoameričkog obalnog područja pustinje Atacama u južnom Peruu i sjevernom Čileu. T. cruzi infekcije su pronađene i u mumijama kasnijih kultura koje su naslijedile Chinchorros i koje su živjele na istom području do vremena španskog osvajanja u 16. stoljeću [26]. Stopa prevalencije za T. cruzi infekcija u ovoj populaciji bila je 41% bez značajnih razlika među pojedinim kulturama što ukazuje na to da je Chagasova bolest već u predkolumbijsko doba bila široko rasprostranjena u civiliziranim društvima [26]. Infekcije sa T. cruzi otkriveni su i u ljudskim ostacima s drugih arheoloških iskopavanja u Americi [27]. Na primjer, T. cruzi DNK je pronađena u djelomično mumificiranom ljudskom tijelu starom 560 godina i u ljudskom koštanom fragmentu starom 4.500-7.000 godina, otkrivenim u dolini Peruaçu u državi Minas Gerais, Brazil [28, 29]. Još jedan slučaj prapovijesti T. cruzi infekcija je prijavljena u mumiji staroj 1.150 godina oporavljenoj iz pustinje Chihuahuan u blizini Rio Grandea u Teksasu [27]. Osim otkrivanja T. cruzi u ljudskim ostacima, nekoliko ekshumiranih mumija također je pokazalo kliničke znakove Chagasove bolesti [26–28, 30]. Daljnji dokazi o američkoj tripanosomijazi u predkolumbijsko doba potječu od peruanske keramike iz 13. do 16. stoljeća koja pokazuje moguće prikaze Chagasove bolesti [31]. To je uključivalo i glavu s jednostranim otokom kapka koji podsjeća na znak Romaña [31].

Na temelju paleoparazitoloških podataka, postavljena je hipoteza da Chagasova bolest potječe iz andske regije [32]. Vjeruje se da su ljudi Chinchorro prvi napustili nomadski način života i naselili se kako bi započeli ratarsku poljoprivredu i stočarstvo [26, 30, 31]. Po doseljenju, praistorijski ljudi su upali i učestvovali u silvatičkom ciklusu T. cruzi, i postupno se pojavio domaći ciklus prenošenja Chagasove bolesti [26, 31, 32]. Razvoj domaćeg T. cruzi ciklus prijenosa olakšan je sposobnošću nekih vrsta troatominskih buba, posebno T. infestans, kako bi se lako prilagodili otvorenijoj vegetaciji i vremenom razvili sklonost prema ljudskim stanovima [33]. U tom kontekstu, važno je napomenuti da osnivanje poljoprivrednih naselja obično uključuje određeni stupanj krčenja šuma. Ključno je da je krčenje šuma snažno povezano sa povećanjem prevalencije Chagasove bolesti [33]. Ova povezanost potkrijepljena je činjenicom da američka tripanosomijaza nema kod autohtonih stanovnika amazonske regije, koji su koristili različite društveno-ekološke obrasce okupacije zemljišta, uključujući otvorene zajedničke kolibe nepovoljne za kolonizaciju vektorima, kontinuiranu mobilnost i odsutnost domaćih životinja. zajedno ometaju prijenos vektora Chagasove bolesti [34].

Moderna vremena

16. -19. Vijek

Od 16. stoljeća naovamo, nekoliko je izvještaja putnika i ljekara koji opisuju pacijente sa simptomima bolesti koji podsjećaju na američku tripanosomijazu. Prvi sugestivni klinički izvještaj koji se odnosi na moguće intestinalne simptome Chagasove bolesti potječe iz knjige koju je 1707. godine objavio portugalski liječnik Miguel Diaz Pimenta (1661-1715) [35]. U njemu je opisao stanje, poznato kao "bicho", "koje uzrokuje zadržavanje humora, uzrokujući da pacijent nema želje za jelom". Međutim, detaljnija analiza teksta sugerira da se opisani simptomi više odnose na hemoroide nego na kliničku sliku čagastičnog megakolona [36]. Jasniji izvještaj o megavisceralnom sindromu Chagasove bolesti dolazi od drugog portugalskog ljekara, Luísa Gomesa Ferreire (1686-1764), koji je 1735. napisao da "korupcija bicha nije ništa drugo do povećanje i proširenje rektuma" [37, 38]. Drugi zapisi opisuju tada poznato stanje kao „mal de engasgo“ koje se vjerojatno odnosi na disfagiju, poteškoće pri gutanju [39–41]. Na primjer, danski liječnik Theodoro J. H. Langgaard (1813-1884), koji je emigrirao u Brazil 1842, dao je sljedeći karakterističan opis stanja: „... obično bolus hrane prolazi samo do kardije iznad želuca. ... Neki pacijenti mogu prisilno spustiti hranu u želudac pijući malu količinu vode nakon svakog zalogaja unesene hrane. ... Kao rezultat nesavršene ishrane, pacijenti počinju gubiti težinu, mršave ... ”[37, 41]. Mnogo više priča o Chagasovoj bolesti može se pronaći u članku Guerre [42]. Svi ovi povijesni izvještaji ukazuju na to da je Chagasova bolest bila prisutna u Latinskoj Americi od početka 16. stoljeća i da je pogađala starosjedilačko stanovništvo, kao i konkvistadore.

Postoje i mnogi izvještaji o triatomskim greškama mnogo prije njihove uloge vektora za T. cruzi je otkriveno (pregledano u [31] i [37]). Vjerovatno najpoznatiji izvještaj o ljubljenju bubica potiče od Charlesa Darwina (1809-1882). 25. marta 1835. zabilježio je u svom dnevniku koji je vodio tokom svog putovanja po Biglu: „Noću sam doživio napad (jer ne zaslužuje ništa manje ime) Benchuca (vrsta Reduvius) velika crna bubica Pampa. Najodvratnije je osjetiti meke insekte bez krila, dugačke oko centimetar, kako gmižu po tijelu. Prije sisanja su prilično tanki, ali kasnije postaju okrugli i napuhani krvlju, pa se u tom stanju lako drobe. Nalaze se i u sjevernom dijelu Čilea i u Peruu. Jedan koji sam ulovio u Iquiqueu bio je vrlo prazan. Kad bi ga stavili na stol i bili okruženi ljudima, ako bi mu se pokazao prst, hrabri insekt bi odmah izvukao sisu, napunio i, ako je dozvoljeno, izvadio krv. Rana nije uzrokovala bol. Bilo je znatiželjno promatrati njegovo tijelo tokom sisanja, kako se promijenilo za manje od deset minuta, od ravnog poput oblatne do kuglastog oblika. Ova jedna gozba, za koju je benčuka bila dužna jednom od oficira, držala ju je masnu puna četiri mjeseca, ali je nakon prvih pet dana insekt bio sasvim spreman za još jedno sisanje ”[43]. Na osnovu ovog susreta sa strijelicom koja se ljubila i njegovih produženih želučanih i nervnih simptoma, čak se pretpostavilo da je Darwin kasnije u životu bolovao od Chagasove bolesti. Međutim, Chagasova bolest je najnevjerojatnija dijagnoza za Darwinovu kroničnu bolest jer su simptomi nestajali kako je stario, budući da nije imao nikakve tipične chagasicne simptome i kako je neke od simptoma imao već prije putovanja Beagleom [37] . Uprkos svim ovim izvještajima, kritična uloga triatominskih buba u prenošenju Chagasove bolesti ostala je neotkrivena sve do 1909. godine.

20ti vijek

Godine 1908., tokom kampanje protiv malarije koja je podržala izgradnju željezničke pruge na sjeveru savezne države Minas Gerais, brazilski higijeničar i bakteriolog Carlos Chagas (1879-1934) (slika 1) obavijestio je željeznicu inženjer velikih insekata koji sišu krv i koji su masovno živjeli u lokalnim stanovima i ugrizli uspavane osobe prvenstveno u lice [44]. Da bi provjerio sadrže li ove bube potencijalne patogene, Chagas ih je secirao i u stražnjem crijevu pronašao brojne tripanosome koje je nazvao T. cruzi u čast svog mentora, brazilskog ljekara i bakteriologa Oswalda Cruza (1872-1917) (slika 2) [45]. Neke zaražene bube poslane su u Cruz u Rio de Janeiru, gdje im je bilo dopušteno ujesti majmune od svizca. U roku od 20-30 dana majmuni su se inficirali i u krvi im je otkriveno mnogo tripanosoma [44]. Ubrzo nakon toga Chagas je otkrio i da je parazit zarazan na nekoliko drugih laboratorijskih životinja [44]. Chagas je bio siguran da je pronašao patogeni organizam ljudske zarazne bolesti, ali nije znao o kakvoj se bolesti radi. Do otkrića je došlo 1909. godine kada su ga pozvali da pregleda dvogodišnju djevojčicu po imenu Berenice koja je imala groznicu s povećanjem slezine i jetre te otečenim limfnim čvorovima [44]. Pri prvom pregledu nisu pronađeni paraziti, ali četiri dana kasnije, 14. travnja 1909., u njezinoj su krvi uočeni brojni tripanosomi slične morfologije kao oni prethodno otkriveni kod zaraženih majmuna marmozeta [44]. Chagas je otkrio novu ljudsku bolest koja je uskoro ponijela njegovo ime. On je dao detaljan klinički opis akutne faze bolesti i povezao infekciju s nekim kroničnim simptomima bolesti što je bilo izvanredno s obzirom da se kronična faza američke tripanosomijaze obično javlja desetljećima nakon prve inokulacije T. cruzi (pregledano u [46]). Zanimljivo je da njegov prvi pacijent Berenice nikada nije razvio kroničnu Chagasovu bolest i umro je u dobi od 73 godine od nepovezanih uzroka [47]. Međutim, bila je zaražena T. cruzi za cijeli život, što je potvrđeno izolacijom parazita kada je imala 55 i 71 godinu [47]. Godine 1912. Chagas je izvijestio da je otkrio T. cruzi u armadilo i tako pronašao prvog domaćina iz rezervoara iz silvatičkog sloja [48]. Postepeno je otkriveno sve više životinja iz rezervoara Chagasove bolesti koje pružaju dokaze o enzootskom ciklusu T. cruzi.

Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano das Chagas u svojoj laboratoriji na Federalnom institutu za seroterapiju u Manguinhosu u Rio de Janeiru. Brazilski higijeničar, naučnik i bakteriolog identifikovao je protozojskog parazita T. cruzi kao uzročnik Chagasove bolesti. Fotografija preuzeta sa Wikimedia Commons.


Chinchorro mumije Anda stare 7000 godina-historija

Publikacija Arheološkog instituta Amerike

Učiniti mrtve lijepima: Mumije kao umjetnost 16. decembra 1998
autora Bernardo T. Arriaza, Russell A. Hapke i Vivien G. Standen
Novembar je mjesec mrtvih. Pokojnici su uklonjeni iz grobova, odjeveni bogatom odjećom i perjem. Mrtvima su davali hranu i piće. Ljudi su plesali i pjevali s mrtvima, šetajući ih ulicama.

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

Ostaci žene stare 5.000 godina, mumificirani u crnom stilu (s maskom od gline premazane crnim manganom) i okruženi kitovom kosti, pronađeni su 1983. sa nalazišta El Morro u centru Arice u Čileu (& copy Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [VEĆA SLIKA]

Misionari koji su radili u Peruu nakon španskog osvajanja bili su zgroženi što su Inke obožavale mumificirane ostatke svojih predaka. Tokom vjerskih festivala sačuvana tijela gospodara Inka bila bi raskošno odjevena, javno izložena, pa čak bi im se davale i šolje chicha, ili kukuruznog piva, da nazdravimo jedni drugima i živima. Iako su se Španjolci zgražavali nad takvom praksom, oni su odigrali integralnu ulogu u životima Andskog stanovništva za koje smrt nije označila kraj života, već razdoblje prijelaza u kojem je trebalo njegovati i zabavljati duše pokojnika, olakšavajući im prolaz u zagrobni život. U zamjenu za takvo gostoprimstvo, vjerovalo se da će se oni zauzeti kod bogova u ime živih kako bi osigurali plodnost i dobre usjeve.

Inke su bile posljednje u dugom nizu andskih naroda koji su sačuvali i prikazali ostatke svojih predaka koji su započeli s Chinchorrom, malo poznatim ribarskim stanovništvom koji je naseljavao 400 milja južnoameričke obale-od Ila u južnom Peruu do Antofagasta na sjeveru Čilea-prije više od 7.000 godina.

Negdje oko početka petog milenijuma p.n.e. Chinchorro je počeo mumificirati svoje mrtve-eviscerirati leševe i izgnječiti kosti. Kostur bi se ponovno sastavio, ojačao štapovima, a unutarnji organi zamijenili bi se glinom, vlaknima kamelije i osušenim biljkama, dok bi se mišići ponovno stvorili tankim snopovima divlje trske i morske trave. Tijelo bi se zatim "presvuklo" kožom pokojnika, koja bi se pažljivo uklonila i odložila. Koža morskog lava dodana je kako bi se popunile sve praznine. Cijelo tijelo je zatim prekriveno pepeljastom pastom i završeno slojem sjajnog crnog mangana ili, kasnije, sjajnocrvenim okerom. Mnoge mumije imale su maske od gline sa pažljivo oblikovanim crtama lica i glinene spolne organe, te su nosile složene glinene kacige ili perike ljudske kose dugačke oko dva stope. Do sada je na grobljima poput El Morra, uvale Camarones i Patillos pronađeno oko 282 Chinchorro "mumije". Od toga, 149 su stvorili Chinchorro zanatlije-mrtvačnice, a ostale je prirodno isušilo vrući, suhi pijesak pustinje Atacama.

Najstarija poznata mumija, dijete djeteta sa lokaliteta u dolini Camarones, 60 milja južno od Arice, datira otprilike cca. 5050 p.n.e. Tijekom sljedećih 3.500 godina, mumifikacija Chinchorra evoluirala je kroz tri različita stila-crni, crveni i premazan blatom-prije nego što je praksa zamrla negdje u prvom stoljeću prije nove ere.

Diorama izložena u Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa prikazuje čileansku obalu i dnevne aktivnosti ribara na kraju Chinchorro perioda prije otprilike 2000 godina. (i kopirajte Philippe Plailly/EURELIOS) [VEĆA SLIKA]

Crni stil (oko 5050.-2500. Prije Krista) bio je daleko najsloženiji. Tijelo je potpuno raskomadano i sastavljeno sa svim osim kostiju i kože zamijenjeno glinom, trskom i raznim materijalima za punjenje. Maska od gline urezana s malim prorezima za oči i usta stavljena je preko lica kako bi tijelu dalo dojam mirnog sna. U tehničkom smislu, crna mumija, sa unutrašnjim okvirom od kostiju i drveta, srednjim slojevima i pastom od pepela, te vanjskim pokrivačem od kože čovjeka i morskog lava, više je ličila na kip nego na mumiju, umjetničko djelo. Danas su ove mumije izuzetno krhke zbog raspada nepečene gline.

Oko 2500 godina prije nove ere, crno je izašlo iz mode, možda odražavajući promjenu ideologije. Moguće je i da je mangana nestalo. Sledećih pet vekova tela su bila završena crvenim okerom, kojeg ima u izobilju u blizini Arice. Proces mumifikacije se takođe promijenio. Leševi nisu bili potpuno raščlanjeni kao kod crnih mumija. Umjesto toga, glava je uklonjena kako bi se izvukao mozak, dok su na rukama, nogama i trbuhu napravljeni uredni rezovi kako bi se uklonili mišići i unutarnji organi, koji su zamijenjeni trskom, glinom, štapovima i krznom lame. Nakon što je tijelo ispunjeno, rezovi su zašiveni ljudskom kosom iglom za kičmu od kaktusa. Tjelesne šupljine u mnogim crvenim mumijama pokazuju znakove pečenja, što upućuje na to da su osušene užarenim ugljenom. Sa crvenim stilom došlo je i do promjene u oblikovanju glinenih maski za lice. Otvorena usta i oči prije odaju osjećaj budnosti nego sna. 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. On je autor knjige 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." Natural History 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 i 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. As Newsweek 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 časopis.


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 Zbornik radova Nacionalne akademije nauka. 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 Nauka, 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


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Komentari:

  1. Azi

    does not at all agree with the previous communication

  2. Ayubu

    Agree, very funny opinion

  3. Jorim

    Nastavili smo sa ovim

  4. Akinolabar

    Prilično tačno! Čini mi se da je to vrlo odlična ideja. U potpunosti se slažem sa tobom.

  5. Faujind

    But yourselves, do you understand?

  6. Lazaro

    Ima li analoga?



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