Mummies of Guanajuato

The mummies of Guanajuato can be viewed in the Museo de las momias (Mummy Museum) in Guanajuato, which has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Guanajuato. These human bodies have been naturally mummified during a cholera outbreak in Guanajuato, Mexico, in 1833, and were discovered in a cemetery near Guanajuato.

These mummies where exhumed between 1865 and 1958, during which time the relatives were required to pay tax in order to retain rights for their dead to remain in the cemetery. 90% of the bodies were exhumed due to the relatives not being able to pay the tax. However, only 2% of these were mummified.

The mummified bodies were placed in a building. The janitors charged a few pesos for curious parties to enter and see them. In time this grew into a large enough tourist attraction that the government turned the place into El Museo de las Momias, or Mummy Museum. A law was passed in 1958 that prohibits the exhumation of the dead, but the museum exhibits the original mommies.

To prevent the spread of cholera, bodies were buried as fast as possible. In the ordeal, some bodies were buried alive by accident. For this reason some of the mummies have horrific expressions on their faces.

The Mummies of Guanajuato have attracted world wide attention in the terms of tourism. Additionally, the mummies were on tour in the US in what is called the Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato exhibit. They are called accidental in the sense that they occurred naturally and are different from Egyptian mummies, which were mummified on purpose and preserved artificially with chemicals.

Another way these mummies differ from Egyptian mummies is that mummies of Guanajuato are regular folk, often poor people whose families couldn’t pay the tax in order to keep them interred. As such, this rare occurrence has preserved in time fascinating stories and local culture.

Scientists have been able to piece together the lives of the people when they were alive based on the details of the mummies such as clothing, personal articles, bodies, even hairdo.

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