Illicit Trade, Ep. 02 - Chinchorro Mummies

Diego Breit Lira | Documentary, Series

2020 | 52 minutes | Chile

When a city is built on top of a cemetery, children play with skulls, and their parents become tomb robbers. For decades, Arica has been the center of self-taught archaeologists and foreign buyers.


When a city is built on top of a pre-Columbian cemetery, children play with skulls, and their parents become tomb robbers. For decades, Arica has been the center of self-taught archaeologists and foreign buyers, even those interested in human bodies. In Switzerland, two of the oldest mummies in the world were found in a collector’s basement. They were about to be burned, but their rescue allowed them to return to the place where they belong.

Series Description

There are no millenary mummies in Switzerland, the vicuñas do not live in New Zealand, and the Alerce does not grow in the United States. How did Chile’s most valuable cultural goods get there? Illicit Trade investigates the incredible theft of fossils, mummies, shipwrecks, meteorites, exotic animals, and endangered trees that have crossed continents to end up in the hands of wealthy collectors, scientific laboratories, and prestigious museums.

Main credits

Breit Lira, Diego (film director)
Guzmán Storey, David (researcher)
Sanhueza Melendez, Paulina (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography, Francisca Saez Agurto, Guillermo González; editors, Darío Órdenes, Cristóbal Valenzuela; music, Wesley Slover.

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DIRECTOR: Diego Breit Lira


YEAR: 2020

GENRE: Documentary, Series

LANGUAGE: English; Spanish; German; Other languages

COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: Middle School, High School, College, Adults



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