The Ancient Mummies of Peru

Peru is a land of mystery, beauty, and adventure, home to some of humankind's most ancient civilizations, a nation of majestic mountains, lush tropical rainforests, and gorgeous beaches. It's not hard to understand why luxury tours of Peru have been in high demand in recent years.

Besides the delights of the cosmopolitan modern cities, the unique cultures and cuisine, and the world-class resorts and hotels, many visit Peru to see the historical and anthropological treasures. Modern civilization began there around 3,000 BC with the Norte Chico culture and continued on through many other societies, culminating with the empire of the Inca. All the societies left their mark on the land. Probably the most popular attraction on the itinerary of custom Peruvian vacations is the mountain stronghold of Machu Picchu, last bastion of the Incas. The enigmatic Nazca Lines in the northern desert are also well visited.

But travelers should not neglect seeing the awe-inspiring mummies of Peru. Almost every culture practiced mummification of the dead, either by special embalming processes or exposure to the high, dry mountain climate. Here are just two places to witness these tangible ghosts of the past.

Tenahaha Mummies and Tombs

In the mountains of southern Peru lies the deepest canyon in the world, the Cotahuasi Valley. In 2015 archaeologists discovered a ceremonial site in the low hills that was honeycombed with tombs. Each tomb appears to contain at least 40 mummies, though only seven have thus far been excavated. The mummies were interred between 800–1,000 AD, and scientists expect there are thousands more buried in unopened tombs yet to be explored. The mummies range in age from infants to the elderly.

There are also living and storage structures in the area as well as open-air plazas for conducting religious ceremonies. This is truly a strange and mystical place to visit.

Chinchorro Mummies

In the Atacama desert of southern Peru, the world's oldest mummies were discovered in 1917. These are the remains of people who lived in the Chinchorro culture, and they first began to mummify their dead about 7,000 BC, thousands of years before the Egyptians did. Unlike the Egyptians, who only embalmed royalty and nobles, the Chinchorro bestowed this rite on everyone in the community, regardless of status. Many hundreds of mummies have been excavated in the area so far.

For those wanting to see these national treasures, custom Peruvian tours from companies such as Kuoda Personalized Travel can be arranged. These mummies are must-see attractions for every tourist.