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By working back through the literature we were able to determine that the Chinchorro mummy in question was recovered in 1993 from the site of El Morro in the city of Arica, Chile.

The naturally-mummified Chinchorro man known as “Mo-1 T28 C22” was between about 35- and 40-years-old at the time of his death.

Mummies, mummies, everywhere Before officially declaring Ötzi to be the oldest tattooed individual, we double checked our data by compiling a list of tattooed human mummies from around the globe.

This catalog included at least 49 sites spanning the period between around 3370 BC and AD 1600, and spread throughout the American Arctic, Siberia, Mongolia, western China, Egypt, Sudan, the Philippines, and Greenland in addition to Europe and South America.

The tattooed mustache on the Chinchorro mummy Mo-1 T28 C22 (after Arriaza, Modelo Bioarqueologico Para la Busqueda y Acercamiento al Individuo Social.

(Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l'Océanie at Aix-Marseille Université).

Because of the intricacies of radiocarbon dating–which we’ll get into more below–this date is the equivalent of about 4050 BC thereby making the Chinchorro specimen some 700 years older than Ötzi.

However, the 1996 source does not specify where the Chinchorro mummy was discovered or how the date estimate was reached, and does not provide an illustration of the tattooed mustache.

Until recently many–including myself–would have instead pointed to a tattooed mustache on the mummified body of a man from the Chinchorro culture of South America as being the world’s oldest surviving tattoo.was a preceramic fishing society that lived in the coastal regions of Southern Peru and Chile between about 70 BC.Some of the earliest Chinchorro burials are naturally mummified as a result of the arid environment of the Atacama Desert, and are among the oldest human mummies identified anywhere in the world.Where things went wrong As we report in our study, the dates of between 40 BC attributed to the tattooed Chinchorro mummy appear to be the result of a series of errors reading the radiocarbon data.The correct date of 3830 ± 100 (the equivalent about 7950 BP) these works have pushed the reported date for the El Morro mummy back some 4,000 years older than its actual age.

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