Memorial Sepulchre for the mummies of San Pedro de Atacama
In May 2007, after years of conflict between the Atacama people, the state and the San Pedro de Atacama Museum, the mummies exhibited in the museum were removed in a ceremony officiated by local communities and dedicated to their ancestors. Until today, the bodies have been stored in a temporary warehouse, following the demand of the villagers to give sacred rest to their ancestors, the ‘Gentiles’. The ‘Route of the Gentiles’ is an archaeological and social project where the variables of conservation, maintenance and classification of thousands of excavated human remains are presented in conjunction with their graves and funeral outfits. This is intended to be an act of social repair in the memory of a village’s belief. The project consists of a ceremonial route that commemorates the life and death of the Gentiles, which also provides the sacred space that the villagers demand for their ancestors, while giving the ancestors the eternal rest they deserve. The experiential project phases are obtained from astronomical references, from local cosmological vision, and from the representation of the ‘chakana’ (Inca Cross). These are explained below:
1 – Recognize: The first stage of the project is related to recognizing the territory, the landscape elements and benchmarks.
2 – Emotional Transfer (Tunnel): The second stage of the project presents the relation with interment in the earth and becoming detached from the environment, producing an emotional change in the visitor in order to prepare for the entrance into the sacred space.
3 – Sacred Space (Sepulchre): is the culminating point where the visitor is confronted with death, the mummies, the union of the people, and the universality of ethnicity.
4 – Reborn: this last stage is emerging into a new life by recognizing and knowing the past.