Mexico The Mummies of Guanajuato

In Guanajuato, Mexico, there are a number of naturally mummified bodies interred during a cholera outbreak around 1833. The human bodies were uncovered between 1870 and 1958. During that time, a local tax was in place requiring a fee to be paid for burial and if the tax was not paid, the bodies were stored in a nearby building. 

The temperature of Guanajuato offers an environment that can lead to a type of natural mummification, although scientific findings later revealed that some bodies had been at least partially embalmed. 

By the 1900s, the mummies began attracting tourists. 

Cemetery staff began charging people a minimal amount of money to enter the building where bones and mummies were stored. The attraction is now one of the most popular in the entire country and what was fascinating is that families even visited with their children, who also seemed absorbed in the mummies and unafraid of their visual presence. 

There were around 100 mummies and the museum curators displayed them in the most gruesome possible way; the twisted bodies are lit up with spotlights, increasing the ghastly details in the bodies. From a photography perspective, our cameras picked up every crease in the skin and clothes. It had been an eight-hour road trip to see them but it was worth it as the experience of photographing them was exciting we had never seen anything like it in our lives.

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