Panteon Municipal adjacent to Museo de las Momias, Guanajuato.




uanajuato, a Colonial city in central Mexico, is home of the incredible Museo de las Momias,. The cemetery adjoining the Mummy Museum has both underground and above-ground burial sites. Contrary to popular belief, the 108 mummies in the museum are not from soil graves but were removed from the above-ground crypts. Bodies are exhumed when descendants stop paying for upkeep.



A woman held upright.




he Mummy Museum sits on a hill overlooking the small city. On the road leading there, Hugues spotted a tree full of bats. The parking lot is crammed with vendors selling everything, including clear taffy candies twisted to resemble mummies. The initial section of the museum is a kind of haunted house with audio, mummies and skeletons on display, and the odd chastity belt from the Inquisition. The other side of the building is where 90% of the disinterred on display lie in long glass and wood cases that resemble coffins. Only about 2% of those removed from their 'final' resting place are in a mummified state. We witnessed tours of school children and senior citizens sweep through the museum in 5 minutes or less, and three American girls cringing in horror at what they saw. We, however, lingered a couple of hours, fascinated by these formerly-living humans in their varying states of mummification. The horror for most viewers seems to be the expression of agony on the faces of the mummies, and the distortions of the body--it's easy to imagine that the person was buried alive. But in death, the muscles pull and twist the body and face, and it is very difficult to keep the lips together. Natural gases also reshape the corpse when rigor mortis is over.




The French doctor.


A man, hair and teeth still visible.


Two babies. They resemble porcelain dolls.


Died young, exposed from an early age.



he first of the dozen small rooms contains mostly children, dressed in lacy christening outfits or other finery, most looking like little dolls. The succeeding rooms display about 10 mummies each, in various stages of undress--boots, shreds of peasant outfits, and a surprising number still wearing their socks. The eyes of one mummy have calcified. The uterus and ovaries of another leave an impression against the stomach. One fellow retains the remnants of his penis.



Some mummies appear to have turned into leather.


Well preserved male genitals.



Most mummies wear sox, or even shoes!


his region's climate is conducive to mummification--the liquification of fat and the drying of body tissue. The oldest mummy, a French doctor, is 200 years old. The museum's contents include babies, children and adults. One mummy is a woman who died in childbirth; her mummified fetus--the youngest mummy--was removed and is on display. Another, a woman accused of sorcery, is still identified as a witch.


Many mummies do not seem to retain much in the way of an identity.


The 'witch'.




A large woman.




Muséo de las momias, Guanajuato, Mexico

There are more mummies from Guanajuato at TAPHOLOV