These mummified parrots speak of a dark side of our history: Scientists studied more than 3,000 year-old birds to understand more about the lives of early people in South America. He also faced cruel practices in the process.
Today we know less about the time before the Inca Empire. At that time, various tribes lived in the region of Chile, Bolivia and Peru. People also settled in hostile areas such as the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
In one study, researchers Jose Capriles and Calogero Santoro discovered new signs of everyday life there. Archaeologists and their team examined 27 animals from five different sites in northern Chile.
Capriles: “Our analysis shows that at that time various species of parrots were used for these people from the east over Andros. For this purpose people used lama caravans. The period of such trade was 1100 and 1400 BC. The former was in the middle. There was a lively exchange between different people in the region. “
The trading area extends thousands of kilometers from the Pacific coast to the Amazon. The so-called Paika Tarapaka cultures living in the Atacama Desert spoke different languages. They waged wars, but also exchanged goods. It is this that describes mummified birds.
“We made a surprising discovery that the birds would have been fed corn that was fertilized with guano. In some places there is slurry in the middle of the desert. To have more crops, people in these areas have large amounts. With the help of Lamas, the seabirds were brought from the sea shore.
The fertile soil in the desert also makes it possible to keep birds. Using the remains of a parrot, researchers can show what the birds’ life was like.
Santoro: “His life was pathetic. We showed one of our first parrots to the ornithologist and he was very sad when he saw it. The wings were pulled up to the lower wings, the beak was trimmed and the animal’s legs grew. Had gone. Together – so that it could not get away from the stick it was sitting on. ”
Parrots were considered a spiritual symbol, their wings were a sign of status. They were mummified in a complex process and placed in the graves of influential people.
However, this does not mean that he was treated well. According to researchers as living donors, they were often plucked. The beak of intelligent animals was cut off so that they would not injure themselves in monotonous captivity.
Santoro: “Then, people managed the animals as well as the products that they owned. There is nothing to the ideal.”
This life was done in harmony with nature 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, it is nothing more than romantic fantasy. One thing is certain: The mummy of animals is a treasure for us even today. In the human perspective of time, life and death were no different from each other. Extensive mummification was going to keep the dead bodies of the dead in this world for a long time. Today they are our gateway to better understand the life of long-forgotten cultures.