The Chinchorros were a preceramic fishing society that inhabited the Atacama coast of southern Peru and northern Chile from about 7020 to 1110 B. C., and their antiquity is much greater than originally thought. Previous Chinchorro chronologies have focused on seriation of fishing implements; this paper suggests analysis of mummies as another useful chronological tool. The Chinchorro system of artificial mummification, the oldest in the world, began about 5050 B. C, and was abandoned about 1720 B. C. Black, Red, Bandage, Mud-Coated, and Natural mummification styles represent diachronic cultural changes. In contrast to previous views, I argue here that the sophisticated Chinchorro mortuary practices originated locally, near Arica, specifically in the Camarones Gorge. The high concentration of cemeteries, high mortuary energy expenditure, presence of villages, and heavy reliance on maritime subsistence, as inferred from mummies, artifacts and human bone analyses, are all indicators that the Chinchorros were an early sedentary maritime society. The ideological complexity and antiquity of settlement of the Andean coast therefore need reappraisal.