Chinchorro Mummies

The Chinchorro are a group of hunter-gatherers that existed in Southern Peru around 10000 to 4000 years ago. Interestingly, they began to mummify their dead rather suddenly, around 5050 BCE. Researchers have struggled to conclude the reasoning behind this abrupt culture change, until recently. It seems as though the Chinchorro halted their practice of burying the dead in part due to the environmental conditions. The dry climate allowed for the dead to be partially uncovered from their shallow graves due to the wind, leaving the remnants of the dead as constant reminders to the local population. This led to a certain familiarity with the dead that inspired complex burial rituals to evolve over time. This is an interesting cultural phenomena and pertains to our class quite obviously as an anthropological breakthrough.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2012/why-the-chinchorro-suddenly-began-to-mummify-their-dead