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Anthropogenic mummies were deliberately created by the living for any number of reasons, the most common being for religious purposes.Spontaneous mummies, such as Ötzi, were created unintentionally due to natural conditions such as extremely dry heat or cold, or anaerobic conditions such as those found in bogs.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.The natural preservation of the dead had a profound effect on ancient Egyptian religion.The first X-ray of a mummy came in 1903, when professors Grafton Elliot Smith and Howard Carter used the only X-ray machine in Cairo at the time to examine the mummified body of Thutmose IV.British chemist Alfred Lucas applied chemical analyses to Egyptian mummies during this same period, which returned many results about the types of substances used in embalming.
This cultural hierarchy lead to the creation of elaborate tombs, and more sophisticated methods of embalming.A mummy is a deceased human or an animal whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air, so that the recovered body does not decay further if kept in cool and dry conditions.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 CE (See the section Etymology and meaning).Much of this early experimentation with mummification in Egypt is unknown.
The few documents that directly describe the mummification process date to the Greco-Roman period.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 BCE.