Last updated on March 8th, 2018 at 10:30 am
Guanajuato, Mexico is known for a few things; being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stunning Baroque Architecture, it's rich silver mining history, being the site of the first victorious battle in the War for Independence from the Spanish and ......... mummies.
You read that right, Guanajuato has mummies.
Unlike the ancient Egyptian variety, Guanajuato's mummies are accidental and far from royal lineage. There is a museum dedicated to these curiosities; all of the dried, thereby preserved bodies were common people of their time.
The mummies in Guanajuato were discovered in the late 1800's after the government instituted a perpetual burial tax on the cemetery. If the families of the buried did not pay the tax the bodies of their loved ones would be exhumed. It was during this process, evicting the dead for back taxes, that the mummies were discovered.
After exhumation, the mummies were stored in an ossuary beneath the cemetery. That ossuary is now part of the museum created to display the mummies.
Today over 100 of the naturally mummified bodies are in the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato.
The mineral-rich soil and particularly arid climate are two things thought to have contributed to the natural mummification of these bodies. Although some say the soil had little to do with the state of them as most were laid to rest in above ground graves.
Each mummy has a tag with a little information about them and theories on how they died. Many of them are still wearing the clothes they were buried in.
Hair and dried skin still remain after 100's of years. Many have their mouths agape, which some people believe to be expressions of horror. There are legends that claim some of the mummies were people who were buried alive accounting for their contorted faces.
But the natural effects of death are more likely responsible for the slack-jawed looks.
The museum conjures mixed feelings; curiosity, interest, sadness, and a bit of terror.
Needless to say, visiting the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato is not for the faint of heart.
Some reviews say it's not a museum suitable for young kids. But, Mak wasn't scared at all, he was more curious and amazed.
There are many interesting stories in the museum; stories about the men, women, and children on display there. Below is the smallest mummy in the world, a fetus.
The mummies are considered national treasures in Mexico. Visiting the museum is an intense experience so they made the end a little more light-hearted.
There are fake coffins and mummy replicas to pose with. This seemed a bit a strange and was definitely unexpected as you can tell from the expression on Mak's face.
Visiting Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato was scientifically interesting, a bit macabre, and strangely peaceful- it is an experience we will never forget.
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