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  • It's a little dim.

  • Quiet.

  • As you descend into the museum, the air seems to thicken.

  • There's a smell of old dust, along with something else; even though you've never

  • smelled it before, the primal part of your brain recognizes it instantly: death.

  • The mummies line either side of the long hallway.

  • Some are propped against the wall.

  • Some have been dressed in modern clothing.

  • You could reach out and touch them if not for the glass.

  • They're screaming.

  • Mouths wide open in agony; puckered, shriveled skin stretched tightly over bones.

  • Eyeless sockets that seem to stare deep into your soul.

  • But where did this macabre collection of mummified remains come from?

  • Cholera is a highly contagious disease often characterized by vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.

  • Some victims die within hours of infection.

  • During the 19th century, five cholera epidemics swept the world.

  • More than once, the disease badly ravaged the city of Guanajuato, Mexico.

  • To control the spread, many were immediately buried after death.

  • ...in some cases, people were buried alive while dying.

  • However, it's hard to know exactly how many Guanajuato mummies died after burial.

  • When a person dies, their skin dries out and contracts.

  • Also their muscles relax.

  • Contracting skin, coupled with a relaxed jaw and natural mummification makes it look like

  • the mummies are screaming.

  • Then there is the strange and sad case of Ignacia Aguilar.

  • She had catalepsy, a condition where sufferers can go into rigid trances.

  • Body functions including heartbeat and breathing may slow down during a cataleptic fit that

  • lasts anywhere from a few minutes to over 24 hours.

  • Poor Ignacia had a fit and her heart appeared to stop beating for longer than a day.

  • Convinced that she was dead, her relatives had her buried.

  • Later, when she was dug up, it was discovered that Ignacia had been buried alive.

  • Why were Ignacia and the other corpses disturbed from their final resting places?

  • Due to the high number of cholera deaths, the local Santa Paula cemetery not only began

  • to run low on space, but the cost to maintain it became burdensome.

  • In 1865, to defray expenses, the Guanajuato government imposed a tax for permanent burial.

  • Relatives were required to pay annually to keep their departed loved ones buried.

  • If a family failed to pay, their family members' corpse was dug up to make room for someone

  • else.

  • Five years after his death and burial, Dr. Remigio Leroy was the first corpse to be disinterred

  • on June 9, 1865.

  • Others soon followed.

  • To their surprise, cemetery workers found that several of the corpses were mummified.

  • The arid soil and hot climate of the Guanajuato region had naturally preserved the bodies.

  • The city kept the mummies in an ossuary under the Santa Paula cemetery in case the relatives

  • showed up with the money wanting a re-burial.

  • The cemetery workers began charging a fee to let the curious take a peek at the bodies.

  • By turn of the century, a significant amount of corpses had been dug up and the whole operation

  • had grown into a museum.

  • Tourists were fascinated by the mummies, especially Ignacia.

  • When her corpse was disinterred, she was found face down, with scratches on her forehead.

  • She was biting her arm, with dried blood in her mouth.

  • Apparently Ignacia had been buried alive.

  • Struggling to get out, she had rolled on her stomach and placing her arms underneath had

  • tried to use her back to push her way out.

  • When that didn't work, she bit her arm in despair before dying.

  • Guanajuato stopped digging up corpses in 1956, but the Museum of the Mummies continues to

  • be a popular tourist destination.

  • Currently it houses the largest collection of mummies in the world with 117 bodies.

  • It even has the world's youngest mummy, a fetus, just 24 weeks old that was buried

  • with its mother.

  • Some people find the museum disrespectful.

  • They think that these poor souls deserve to lie in eternal rest, not to be gawked at by

  • nosy tourists.

  • However, the city of Guanajuato takes pride in its mummies, considering them to be an

  • amazing part of the city's heritage.

  • Ever wonder what goes on at the morgue?

  • Employees reveal their scariest secrets: What if death wasn't permanent?

  • Have scientists found a way to bring the dead back to life?

It's a little dim.

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B2 buried burial cemetery cholera museum corpse

Screaming Mummy Mystery

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/11
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