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In addition to the well-known mummies of ancient Egypt, deliberate mummification was a feature of several ancient cultures in areas of America and Asia with very dry climates.
The Spirit Cave mummies of Fallon, Nevada in North America were accurately dated at more than 9,400 years old.
Before this discovery, the oldest known deliberate mummy was a child, one of the Chinchorro mummies found in the Camarones Valley, Chile, which dates around 5050 BC.
The Medieval English term "mummy" was defined as "medical preparation of the substance of mummies", rather than the entire corpse, with Richard Hakluyt in 1599 AD complaining that "these dead bodies are the Mummy which the Phisistians and Apothecaries doe against our willes make us to swallow". The OED defines a mummy as "the body of a human being or animal embalmed (according to the ancient Egyptian or some analogous method) as a preparation for burial", citing sources from 1615 AD onward.
Some authorities restrict the use of the term to bodies deliberately embalmed with chemicals, but the use of the word to cover accidentally desiccated bodies goes back to at least 1615 AD (See the section Etymology and meaning).
Mummies of humans and other animals have been found on every continent, Many of the Egyptian animal mummies are sacred ibis, and radiocarbon dating suggests the Egyptian Ibis mummies that have been analyzed were from time frame that falls between approximately 450 and 250 BC.
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Egyptians buried the dead in pit graves, without regard to social status. This characteristic allowed for the hot, dry sand of the desert to dehydrate the bodies, leading to natural mummification.More than 300 scientists attended the Congress to share nearly 100 years of collected data on mummies.The information presented at the meeting triggered a new surge of interest in the subject, with one of the major results being integration of biomedical and bioarchaeological information on mummies with existing databases.Wasps of the genus Aleiodes are known as "mummy wasps" because they wrap their caterpillar prey as "mummies".The first modern scientific examinations of mummies began in 1901, conducted by professors at the English-language Government School of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt.
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Lucas also made significant contributions to the analysis of Tutankhamun in 1922.