15 comments on “A Battlefield Covered With Mummies. 1901.

  1. It does seem a little odd. Even without scavengers or insects or whatever the bodies themselves contain organisms capable of breaking them down. Having said that though I saw a program not that long ago about a couple of sacrificial victims found in the Indes? that were almost perfectly preserved mummies. As far as I know they were killed in situ and no embalming took place so perhaps there is something in the soil that makes this possible. Would be intriguing to find out more although if it is true the image of so many bodies lying as they fell would be truly horrific 😦

    • The dry environment of a desert would certainly slow the decomposition but as far as being as ‘fresh-looking as the day of the battle’? I don’t think so, dessicated remnants sounds more likely!

      Anyway, I think that ‘thousands’ of dead bodies would be pretty good at attracting larger flying scavengers. It might take them some time to get through them but they would give it a good go!

      I suspect that the teller of this story heard the part of the tale where the soldiers didn’t hang around to bury their dead and just went from there. Deserts do seem like places where nothing can live, but they aren’t really!

      Call me morbid, but I looked on google earth at the Tarapaca area in the hopes that I would see the battlefield scattered with bones and abandoned weaponry but I was unsuccessful. I could have been looking in the wrong spot of course, it is a big area, but I don’t think any amount of looking would give me success… 😉

      • lmao – only you would think to search for it on google earth! I’d be going, omg it’s too big, it’s pointless even trying 😀

        I’ll bet that someone has been there or flown over it or something. I’ll bet you a nice bottle of red that someone shows up on your blog with pics!

        • I was thinking I had no hope, but what kind of researcher would I be if I didn’t at least try!? I didn’t find any pictures other than historical paintings and non-specific photos of desert. None actually saying ‘this is where it happened’ unfortunately.

          You might be interested in some other stuff about this war that I found and mentioned in my reply to David at the bottom of the page. 🙂

          • I guess I’m a typical blinkered Westerner but I never imagined that countries in South America would go through the same conflicts over resources as other parts of the world. And yes, the Middle East does spring to mind.

            Maybe it’s time that history was taught/studied in different ways. Instead of being localised and chronological, perhaps it should be done in themes and what better way to begin than by looking at how the world has been changed by the need for resources. Perhaps if we all learned that instead of dates and political events even our politicians might start to learn some lessons /from/ history.

            At the moment it seems as if we have to reinvent the wheel with every generation.

            Very thought provoking Metan – in ways I really did not expect!

          • I am sure that throughout history almost every war has been fought over either resources or religion. Each tribe, village, city, country etc would have something worth fighting about, be it water, food, shiny rocks or the wrong god.

            We only fight over oil now because we live in a society that needs it. If we develop some other sort of technology we will dump oil and start fighting over the access to that thing instead.

            I wish history was taught more, and differently at schools. I think we need to learn local history as without that we wouldn’t be how we are. The more I learn about our convict history the more I realize why Australia is like it is. We definitely need to learn more about the rest of the world too, their history shaped them as much as ours did us. Teaching with themes would be a good way to show that no matter what we humans are all going to see the world in different ways and that we need to understand that. (This lesson will not be taugh in Dictatorship 101 though!)

          • I try to run my house as a benevolent dictatorship. 😉

            I always loved the kind of democracy that Terry Pratchett’s Patrician practices on the Discworld. One man, one vote. The Patrician is the man, he has the vote.

  2. It struck me that the article said the Chileans were marching through this terrible place. Does that mean the Peruvians live there? If it’s a battle both sides must have had losses and if the are is desolate and unpopulated surely the Peruvians must also have been marching there. Perhaps they we’re each going to raid the other’s Country and should really have passed like ships in the night (or camels).
    Since the war is so obviously over now, I wonder if both countries have designated this as some gruesome war memorial because if not, why have they not afforded their dead some dignity? The way transport is these days they could fly heavy helicopters over to cover the area in concrete and then either land and erect a permanent memorial to the deceased and the futility of war or / and knowing that Capitalism is everywhere build a cafe on top to exploit the next traveller who passes that way.

    • Often I find an article like this that I am interested in for one reason, and when I do a bit of research on it (so I won’t look like a complete idiot if questioned) I find that it is just the tip of the iceberg of a bigger issue.

      This battle was part of the War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War. This was a fight involving Bolivia, Chile and Peru over the control of natural resources and the income derived from them.

      Now I could use plenty of terms like; improving military technology, naval blockades, costly occupation, strategic control but I would prefer you read it from a source that actually sounds like they know what they are talking about so have a look at
      http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/War_of_the_Pacific .

      I will refrain from mentioning how much this war seems to reflect the current crisis in the Middle East and I will also not say that history always repeats. Oh, I did… You know you’re thinking it….

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