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The Spirit Cave mummies of Fallon, Nevada in North America were accurately dated at more than 9,400 years old.Before this discovery, the oldest known deliberate mummy was a child, one of the Chinchorro mummies found in the Camarones Valley, Chile, which dates around 5050 BC.
A text known as The Ritual of Embalming does describe some of the practical logistics of embalming, however, there are only two known copies and each is incomplete.By utilizing current advancements in technology, scientists have been able to uncover a plethora of new information about the techniques used in mummification.A series of CT scans performed on a 2,400-year-old mummy in 2008 revealed a tool that was left inside the cranial cavity of the skull.Earlier experimentation in 1994 by researchers Bob Brier and Ronald Wade supported these findings.While attempting to replicate Egyptian mummification, Brier and Wade discovered that removal of the brain was much easier when the brain was liquefied and allowed to drain with the help of gravity, as opposed to trying to pull the organ out piece-by-piece with a hook.Deliberate mummification became an integral part of the rituals for the dead beginning as early as the 2nd dynasty (about 2800 BC).
Egyptians saw the preservation of the body after death as an important step to living well in the afterlife.
Mummies of humans and other animals have been found on every continent, Many of the Egyptian animal mummies are sacred ibis, and radiocarbon dating suggests the Egyptian Ibis mummies that have been analyzed were from time frame that falls between approximately 450 and 250 BC.
In addition to the well-known mummies of ancient Egypt, deliberate mummification was a feature of several ancient cultures in areas of America and Asia with very dry climates.
Spontaneous mummies, such as Ötzi, were created unintentionally due to natural conditions such as extremely dry heat or cold, or anaerobic conditions such as those found in bogs.
While most individual mummies exclusively belong to one category or the other, there are examples of both types being connected to a single culture, such as those from the ancient Egyptian culture and the Andean cultures of South America.
Much of this early experimentation with mummification in Egypt is unknown.