Chile Chinchorro mummies back from Switzerland

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Four pre-Colombian mummies, including two Chinchorro mummies cast as the oldest in the world, have been returned to Chile from a private collection in Switzerland, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Officials said the unidentified collector turned the mummies over to the Swiss government, which then repatriated them to Chile.

"The foreign ministry is honored to receive and to have been the bridge between the Swiss authorities and the National Monuments Council for this important legacy of archaeology and anthropology in Chile," Deputy Foreign Minister Fernando Schmidt said in a statement.

Two of the artifacts are considered among the oldest in the world -- from 5,000 BC -- and were part of the Chinchorro people in northern Chile.

Two other mummies were also returned, including one from around the time of the arrival of Spanish colonists and another from an undetermined time in the pre-Colombian era, according to officials.

The mummies will go to the San Miguel de Azapa archaeological museum around 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) north of Santiago, where other preserved mummies and artifacts of the Chinchorro culture are on display.

© 2011 AFP

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