Swiss collector returns 4 ancient mummies to Chile

Jan 20, 2011

(AP) -- A Swiss collector has returned four pre-Columbian mummies to Chile, including two that are believed to be up to 7,000 years old.

The Swiss government says the unnamed collector agreed to voluntarily hand the mummies over to Chile. They were discovered near the country's northern Atacama desert.

Two of the mummies date back to the Chinchorro period that lasted from 5,000 to 1,500 B.C. This makes them older than the famed 3,300-year-old mummy of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.

A third belongs to an unspecified pre-Columbian period while the fourth dates to the time of the Spanish arrival in what is now in the early to mid-1500s.

The preserved bodies were handed over to Chilean government officials Thursday at a small ceremony in Geneva.

Explore further: How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

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