Sep
04
2007

Accidental mummies: Mexican villagers are preserved

Accidental mummy: This mummy of Ignacia Aguilar, who may have been buried alive in Guanajuato, Mexico, is one of the huge collection of mummies being studied in the Mexican mountain city.
Accidental mummy: This mummy of Ignacia Aguilar, who may have been buried alive in Guanajuato, Mexico, is one of the huge collection of mummies being studied in the Mexican mountain city.
What were just regular burial customs in a Mexican mountain village more than 100 years ago are turning out to be some magnificent mummification techniques. A team of U.S. mummy experts have found some fascinating information while studying the mummies of Guanajuato, Mexico.

The mummies have been on display in a museum in that city for many years, but Guanajuato officials invited researchers from Texas State University and Quinnipiac University in Connecticut to come and take a closer look at what turned those dead bodies into mummies.

The mummies are of people who were buried in above ground crypts from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. Local legend held that the bodies became mummified because the area’s water is rich in minerals and sulfur. In fact, Guanajuato is a mining area rich in precious metal and sulfur.

But the researchers are working on another angle for the cause of the mummies. They think that hot weather in the area warmed up the crypts and that heat dried out the bodies, causing the mummification process to take place. There are more than 100 mummies in the museum’s collection and the researchers have checked over about 20 specimens so far. The Guanajuato collection is believed to be the largest group of mummies anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

There are some interesting stories behind some of the mummies. In fact, the mummy collection was discovered due to one of the deceased’s not having paid all of his taxes. A French physician was dug up in 1865 because a burial tax had not been paid. When they opened the crypt, they found that the doctor had become mummified. More tombs were checked and by the late 1880s, a museum was opened to display the mummies.

Also found were specimens of a baby and fetus whose bodies appeared to have been opened up and then closed with sutures, indicating that some kind of treatment or autopsy had been done on them.

Information on the mummies has been collected using X-rays, measuring bones and also doing endoscopes. The current team of researchers are hoping to link up with DNA experts to do testing on hair samples of the mummies to learn even more.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Human jerky? Dried in an dirt oven...

posted on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 9:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i know quite a bit of people i wouldn't mind turning inhto jerky and finally i would be able to enjoy them for once.

posted on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 2:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

sounds good ive never had bad jerky!

posted on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 2:36pm

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