The Chinchorro people of Chile, a civilization living 7000 years ago engaged in ritual mummification of their dead. The deliberate preservation of their dead appears to have religious connotations and they likely believed that mummification bridged the worlds of the living and the dead. Like the mummies of Egypt, the Chinchorro people engaged in elaborate ways in mummifying their dead, but 2000 years before the Egyptian practices began.
The process began with a mortuary assistant cleaning and eviscerating a corpse and detaching the head with a stone knife. The skin, flesh, organs and eyes were removed. The skin in particular, was kept intact, and likely rolled off, like one would remove a sock. It was then likely soaked in solution to keep it pliable (most likely in seawater) for later use. The bodies were then stuffed and bulked with twigs, reeds, and grass, using binders of bird eggs, or fish glue. The skin was then replaced on the body.
Many Chinchorro mummies have been known to have an O-shaped mouth, as if in shock. This may be due to a failure to tightly close the mouth, resulting in its falling open in the following years. It may also have been deliberate to make the person seem alive.
Than, K. (2012, August 14). Pictures: Death-Cult Mummies Inspired by Desert Conditions? Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/08/pictures/120813-mummies-chinchorro-proceedings-desert-driest-chile/