Locus 9

Locus 9 mummy

Locus 9
Human Mummy
Biographical Information
Name(s) Locus 9
Sex Female
Culture Chinchorro
Date(s) 1,000-1,5000 y.a.
Site Tarapaca Valley
Current Location
Location Atacama Desert, Chile
Catalog #


The Locus 9 mummy was discovered in the TR40-A cemetary in the Tarapaca Valley of the Atacama desert.  The mummy is believed to be between 1,000 and 1,500 years old, and came from a region in northern Chile known to be home to mummies of both the Inca and Chinchorro culture.  Locus 9 was the mummy chosen by the UCLA field school to be tested for various conditions using archaeological field science.


Locus 9 was in very good condition, and had hair, skin, and clothing available to be sampled. The hair samples were in exceptional condition, and was surprisingly well maintained, considering the mummy is believed to have been a regular person (non-royalty). There was a layer of soil that had seeped through and had encrusted the mummy's skin. Its teeth were also intact and in good condition.


There were numerous studies conducted on Locus 9, mostly to try to identify signs of chronic arsenic poisoning, to support various research studies on the northern Chilean people from this point in history.  Various high-tech methods were used to collect and analyze hair samples from the mummy.  A high concentration of arsenic was found, and is believed to have been present due to drinking arsenic-laced water, and possibly from eating plants that had been irrigated with this water. Skin conditions caused by arsenic poisoning were also prevalent.


Chronic arsenic poisoning - due to consumption of intoxicated water

Additional Info

Previous studies had confirmed the presence of arsenic in Chinchorro mummies, but not the direct causation from consumption, there was the possibility of contamination after burial. This study confirmed chronic arsenic presence from when the mummy was alive due to advanced research in hair sampling.

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