These mummies were shipped to Norway by Norwegian emigrant Gunnar Nergaard. (Photo: Per Holck / University of Oslo)
For over eighty years, 2500 years old mummies from South America have remained forgotten in a museum warehouse in Oslo. Before now, nobody knew where they came from or how they ended up there.
In the 1930s, the Norwegian emigrant Gunnar Nergaard settled in Chile. He found, among other objects, some 2500 years old Indian mummies which he shipped to the Norwegian Ethnographic Museum in Oslo, NRK Hedemark and Oppland reports.
They were completely forgotten until Knut Djupedal, Director at the Norwegian Migration Museum, read an article about the emigrated Norwegian and the mummies. He started to dig in Nergaard’s history to find out where they had ended up.
When he contacted Ethnographic Museum, he got the answer that they probably had some objects that Nergaard had shipped.
– But they claimed they had no mummies, says Djupedal.
However, Djupedal did not give up and continued to dig for information.
– Then I found a photograph Nergaard had taken in 1930 of the mummies. The picture showed residues of hair, skin and clothing – this despite the fact that they probably were several thousand years old.
The photo from 1930 is found after eager searching. The mummies have the same seating position and other characteristics that match the findings. (Photo: Norwegian Migration Museum)
To find out where the mummies were located, Djupedal took contact with the Schreiner Collection of human remains and the Department of Anatomy at the University of Oslo.
The collection contains 7,500 skeletons, and after much searching Djupedal eventually found the four mummies that were shipped from Chile.
– If you compare with the image, you will see that one of the mummies have exactly the same seating position, a bone fracture is exactly the same, and a flap of skin is sticking down in the same way in real life as in the picture, Djupedal explains.
– Quite Exceptional
The mummies have been stored away for about eighty years without anybody knowing where they came from.
– This is surprising. The oldest mummy is 2500 years, and the youngest 500-600 years old. We have no tradition for this type of objects, so it is quite exceptional, says Per Holck, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Oslo.
Now, the question is what will happen next with the mummies.
– My personal opinion is that they should be scanned, photographed and examined and sent back where they come from, says Djupedal.
Per Holck says that the University of Oslo will contact Chilean authorities.
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Text modified by: Thor Lanesskog ThorNews