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Good times led to grisly custom

Increased rainfall may have indirectly prompted development of mummification

3:14pm, August 13, 2012

A population boom sparked by increased rainfall and a burgeoning supply of seafood may have led members of South America’s Chinchorro culture to start mummifying their dead long before the ancient Egyptians started salt-drying their pharaohs for eternal life.

Chinchorro hunter-gatherers invented the earliest known mummification procedures about 7,000 years ago, when the group’s population was rising. Increasing numbers of Chinchorro couldn’t help occasionally seeing bodies of dead comrades that had naturally mummified in shallow

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