Saturday, June 15, 2024

Take A Look At The Mummies - Guanajuato

Mummy of a seventy year old woman buried over 100 years ago still fully clothed and with all of her hair.

Yesterday we got up early and headed to the Mummy Museum (Museo de las Mommias). Good thing we had a head start.  When we arrived to the parking area there were over 100 students lined up as part of an end of school year field trip.  We walked to the entrance and were the first to open the doors.  We have our INAPAM card (senior discounts) and we entered for 15 pesos each.  Most of the museums here in Guanajuato offer the discount.  

We were met by independent tour guides who work for donations.  The tour touches on the highlights, is informative and interesting.  After the guided tour we were left to do our own investigation.  Why are the mommies on display and not in the ground?  First off, they are actually desicated bodies.  The climate in this area is perfect for the process.  It's dry and hot.  Bodies that are buried in the ground cannot be mummified unless, apart from perfect conditions, are buried in a woode coffin that has not been stained or varnished.  Bodies storied in walled musoleums allow the fluids to drain and dry out quickly.  Some of the examples in the museum may have been partially embalmed.

Back in the 1800s, a tax was placed on burial sites.  Those that didn't pay the tax for their beloved, had the bodies removed after five years.  Those that were mummified, were stored in warehouses.  Over the years, people came to visit and take a look at the mummies.  Like all good humans, people started to take body parts, identification tags, jewelry, even pulling wads of hair out of the skulls.  The place was eventually closed.  The practice of charging a fee for maintaining the cemetaries in Mexico still exists.  If after five years you have not paid, they will remove the remains.  We witnessed the exhumation of Juan's mother from one cemetary to another.  We purchased some plots in a private cemetary (she had been in a public cemetary for over 40 years).  In Mexico, embalming is only to preserve the body for a few days.  That's why when someone dies, the burial takes place the next day.  When they opened Juan's Mother's grave, (cemetary director and lawyer present), we found only a small piece of polyester clothing, the skull and a few bones from the arms and legs.  Those were put in a small coffen we purchased and taken to the new place of rest.  

Remegio Leroy was a French doctor who died in 1865.  Leroy had no family and taxes weren't paid and he was exhumed after the five years.  He was one of the first to be exhumed and brought interest to the citizens of Guanajuato.  This was the beginning of viewing mummies.  He was a good specimen, still fully clothed, beard, hair and his shoes and socks still in place.  I find the clothing and shoes the most interesting.  A close of view of how people dressed, the type of fabric, style of shoes and that striped socks were used over the centuries.

An example of a Chinese woman.  Durning the 1800s under the reign of Porfirio Diaz (the president/dictator who electrified Mexico, opened coastal ports, telegraph lines and built Mexico's first railroads) to build the railroads.  Many settled in Guanajuato and you will find many Mexicans today with Chinese surnames such as Lee, Woo, Chong, etc.  This woman was of short stature, and you can see her facial Asian facial features. 

Indigenous woman still in her native dress.

There is a display of infants and small children.  In one particular display which I did not get a picture of, there is the mother with her stitches from a failes caesarean and the fetus completely preserved.  The fetus is the world's smallest complete mummied human being that has been sent around the world.  

Today is Saturday and we will be heading back to San Miguel de Allende after we go to the Presa de la Olla here in Guanajuato.  It is an area where the wealthy and well-know of Guanajuato and Mexico had huge mansions.  I want to get some pictures and do some walking.  


  1. We found the Mummy Museum very interesting as well. Some of them were a bit unnerving, weren't they?

    1. I have to agree. They should have covered some parts. Kind of gross actually. Cremate me.

  2. Interesting to see but not so interesting to be..for me!