The Mummies of Guanajuato


Today's episode of ridiculous histories brought to you by Gillette, on demand, when I'm looking for an especially smooth comfortable shave with Noah patches. No, no, scratches I always go to Gillette razors specifically. I'm a fan of the fusion proof shield or the mach three. And my dad also uses Gillette razors. He actually taught me how to shave using a Gillette and the future is now folks with Gillette on demand, you can get blades delivered directly to your door subscribed today and give fifty percent off your first order with the special offer stuff, five zero at checkout that stuff, five zero. Enjoy free shipping. And every fourth order free with your subscription against some of the shave had in my life. Don't take my word for it. Visit Gillette online at Gillette, on demand dot com and use the code stuff. Five zero for fifty percents off your first order. Casey, could we get a little bit of spooky music just for a second. In the background here it is impacting Tober perfect. Woke to the show ridiculous historians. We are men of our word earlier. We had floated the idea of finding more frightening, disturbing creepy tales as we get closer to Halloween Ben didn't. We do pope based kind of spooky creepy Taylor ready, but that was pre-october. No, you're right. That was pre-october and we, we talked about whether we should save that one, but that was just such a cool and strange story. We were compelled the power of Christ compelled us to put that podcast out in the world and the power of super producer. Casey peg REM. Health make that reality. We're looking at a story today that is equal parts ridiculous and I would say tragic. Yeah, I say mainly tragic and book. Yeah, and this is this is something that you had you had hip to me to know which is the story of mummies in Mexico? Yeah, specifically the Mexican town of Guanajuato which was established in the early sixteenth century and was something of a BoomTown for silver mining. It became that in the eighteenth century to the point where I believe it actually kind of messed with the economy of silver because there was just so much damn silver coming out of there that it like jacked with the price of silver and away that caused some real economic problems in the region. Absolutely. Yeah. For time it was the third largest silver mine on the planet in terms of production. They still have traces of this. Mine. Winning industry, right? Especially ways it Boca del Farrell, Boca del inferno. It's mine shaft that Boca meaning mouth. So the mouth of hell. And this is an attraction you can see there are also it's known for its beautiful architecture. These brightly colored baroque buildings, and they're these like narrow kind of alleys between the buildings, and it's a very walkable picturesque little city. But it also was an important stronghold during the Mexican revolution when Mexico was able to break free of Spanish control. And that is when father Miguel Hidalgo in eighteen ten who is the parish priest in Dolores put out his infamous grow Dila Dolores shout of Dolores and he assembled a a mob of peasants. Brandishing machetes and clubs, and they eventually made their way to Guanajuato because it was the most prominent largest city in. In the area, and that became their stronghold in the site of the beginning of the Mexican revolution. So a lot of history in this town, but today's episode is not about any of those things. Oh, yes, yes. Let me set this up. We should say that the name one watt though actually translates to mountainous place of frogs love that. And it's it's had several different names throughout its time because it's very old city. So maybe an Aztec era where the name was. Yeah, what was it? It was the land of straw, and the word is beautiful. When translated from and I, it was an Aztec word pox TIs LAN. That's that is a buf- word. I personally, I also like MO, the place of metals. Yeah, which is the older main learning. It makes perfect sense. It was also the place of weird, government-sanctioned grave, robbing. That's right today, story involves grave robbing and it involves. I'm just. Say it really terrible move on the part of local government. So there's a big city. A lot of people get buried, you know, life happens and bore new live, and you die. And there was a cholera outbreak around the area of guano to in the eighteen thirties run eighteen thirty three or so. And these people when they expired, they were interns. They were buried in some cases they were involved. But a few years later, the local government puts attacks on graves, yes. The thing is like you would rent this place like didn't own. Yeah. Yeah, you'd rent it. And I think the initial rental period was about five years. And then you had to rea- your rental, your family had to, you know, assuming you had any family to speak of and if you didn't pay this, this is something that was instituted between eighteen sixty five to nineteen fifty eight by the way, very recently done away with and if you did not. Pay for three years in a row. That's right. Then your peeps would be up rooted literally dug up dug up because they were in these airtight, MAs, Liam chambers, they would be removed and victim and they were either taken to a simple poppers grave outside of town. I and this is interesting about the story the this of this culture very much reveres death. You have the day, oh, still swear to us, and all of these kind of death related rituals and just deep veneration for one's ancestors and paying respects. And you know this very religious culture. The idea of digging up these loved ones and putting them in a a less desirable burial space had to have been very painful for some of these families. But that wasn't even the worst thing that could have happened was there's stranger things that happened because it would be put in a poppers graver. They might be placed in an also which was actually under the cemetery grounds itself. Waiting in case the relatives would come back cough up the money and have their loved ones reinterred reburied which did happen in a couple of cases. These people were taken out of the grave and then put back in. But when they were taken out of the grave, often they weren't decayed in the way that you would expect a dead body to rot over time. They were preserved, they were mummies. They were mummies. They have become mummies. Naturally. They were mummified by the environment in which they were interred believe. The first one that was found mummified was a man named Dr. Remigio LeRoy in eighteen sixty five Frenchmen right of the French doctor, I think is what he was doing. So we're sort of bearing the lead here. We were getting there, but yes, been this is very important. Fact that they were naturally mummified from lack of oxygen and just the very dry climate that that existed there as part of the world. And so they would literally just dry out and their clothes would rot quicker than their bodies would. And here's the thing these mummies. When they found this, this Frenchman the first guy they found had undergone this transformation. They were like, this is pretty cool and by, I guess the city people that ran the Muslim. What do you think like city officials? This was a state run facility, right, right. Yeah, they would like, okay, this is pretty cool. We should hold onto this guy and so they do that. And they continue doing that for several years before they realize, hey, we might have a little moneymaker on our hands. So what happens then is the ones that the curator's let's call them deem. I guess fascinating enough specimens right are kept and in the fifties, a museum is opened, yes is true. This hearkens back to our earlier episode which seems so so long ago now on corpses in dioramas you remember that very much do with the camel in the Arabic gentlemen with the the human skull I play right? And when yes, we say thought to be fascinating. What do we mean? This is pretty graphic stuff. He's being things like mummy that was pregnant or people who appear to have been buried alive such as natio- Aguilar. The people who were buried alive were almost certainly buried by accident due to the extreme nature of the cholera outbreak. And yeah, it's right. And a lot of these specimens were found to have cholera or have suffered from smoke inhalation. There's a really great. Really short podcasts from show called Mexico on unexplained. I think one, yeah, and it it. It goes into some of these details, but really interesting that they would have had smoke inhalation because it was either from smoking cigarettes or any kind of tobacco or possibly from working in those minds under less than ideal conditions. Oh, yes. End before we get to four way from a wanna clarify because I remember it. I did find the explanation of how this museum thing came about and it's it's kind of disappointing in what it says about the human condition because once word of the Guanajuato mummies started spreading around town, other people in town were apparently sneaking over and paying people who worked at the cemetery's just a couple of pesos to sneak in and take a quick peek. So it was a, the workers were motivated by profit, and then they were incentivized because this burial taxes still. Around the pool, more and more bodies out of the crypt, and then find more and more mummies and charge more and more people to see them. So what were they keeping them before the museum situation took off before the museum they would eventually it'd be kept in that also wary under the graveyard dislike for rainy day in Kate will the official reason the just in case the families come back and say, we do have the money to pay the burial tax, but why would they keep them versus bearing them outside of town? Like my understanding what they kept these because they were so crazy looking and they like, I think I think it's a situation again where there was an official reason and then there was a real reason guy. Hey, everyone. We're ridiculous history, and we want to tell you about a brand new apple discover an app just for investing. It's called Robin Hood. Answer. I Robin Hood and investing lets you buy and sell stocks ETF s.'s options and cryptocurrencies all commission free. They tried to make financial services work for everyone including investment neophytes like me and Ben, not just the wealthy yet it's none intimidating wave for stock market newcomers to invest for the first time with true confidence. You know, let's go back to the some of the high points of this. I love that they're commission fees. Other brokerages may charge up to ten dollars for every trade, but Robin Hood does not full stop yet Rowan, who was actually kind enough to give us a little bit of scratch to invest. And we've been having a really good time doing. It's very intuitive, very clean. Other brokerages charge up to ten dollars for every robinhood does not charge us or you a dime, so you can trade stocks and keep all of your. Office, the design, the ease of use, it's out of this world, easy to understand charts and market data place a trade in just four taps right on your smartphone. You can learn how to invest as you build your portfolio. You can discover new stocks and track favorite companies with your own personalized news feed, and you get custom notifications for price movements. So you never miss the right moment to invest. And today just for hanging out with ridiculous history. Robinhood wants to give you a free stock like apple Ford, or sprint to help build your portfolio. Sign up at history dot robinhood dot com. That's just go to history dot, Robin Hood dot com and sign up now. So let's talk about this museum when that started happening. El museo Ledesma MIA'S which the museum of the mummies. It was the same place where the cemetery workers were just charging people several pesos to enter into the buildings. The bones in the mummy's with with again, doctor LeRoy being the first one on display, but winded, it officially become a museum instead of this underground display of death. Yeah, that's right. But like I said before, you know, there was money to be made here and the government wasn't getting those MAs. Liam lease rental fees. They figure they would capitalize in another way and they open this to the public in the nineteen fifties. And it was actually voted Guanajuato 's believe, number one tourist attraction. And so for a nominal fee of two pesos, you can take a look at the mall. Than one hundred hundred eight hundred eight dried out, human mummies, natural mummies. And that this includes all different types of situations in varying stages of decay, kind of. Yeah, and you can still see their facial expressions and a lot of cases which you mentioned the somewhat gruesome details that have allowed investigators to determine who was buried alive and who is buried when they were actually dead. When you mentioned that was buried alive actually still has her hands like transfer, like, you know, in covering her eyes, died biting her arm. Yeah. And the thing too is most of these cadavers have these just pained expressions as though they're like shrieking in agony and it's because of what happens when the tongue dries out during this process and the jaws starts to slacken, you start kind of looks like the scream. I know that that painting and this is pretty crazy. Ray Bradbury actually wrote a short story about based on his visit to this this museum when he was Bakke shinning with his wife in Guanajuato, and he wrote a story called the next in line where he very vividly describes this. So I'm going to read a little bit of that way. Yeah, case it can get that spooky music back for this. I think I think deserves it. They were screaming. They looked as if they had leapt snapped up right in their graves clutched, hands over their tripled bosoms and screamed jaws wide tongues out nostrils flared and been frozen that way. All of them had open mouths. There was a perpetual screaming. They were dead and they knew it in every raw fibre evaporated Oregon. They knew it. She stood listening to them, scream. They say, dogs here sounds humans never hear sounds so many decibels higher than normal hearing that they seem non existent. The corridor swarmed with screams screams poured from terror. Yawn lips and dry tongues screams. You couldn't hear because they were so high. Not cool Ray Bradbury not cool. What do you think about that? Yeah, I've actually read the story. It's right Ray Bradbury's a fantastic writer in very appropriate for Halloween. The mummy museum also inspired other works of fiction in the late nineteen seventies hers. All took a number of shots of these various mummies for the title sequence of his film, NAS Virata the vampire because he just wanted a morbid eerie atmospheric opening sequence. I remember that sequence and I did not know that Ben and one of the museums other notable points of interest is that it has the smallest mummy in the world. It is a fetus from the pregnant woman that we've mentioned earlier. It's a heartbreaking thing in it's strange to feel the turns of history. So immediate and tactile, you know, because so often we think of these. These horrific tragic events as an abstract thing from a history book, but going and seeing these real people is tremendously profound and moving experience. One other work of fiction that we absolutely have to mention is the film that incorporates the mummies of Guanajuato in a not accurate way is called santio versus the mummies of Guanajuato. Santo being a very popular Lucia door wrestler. These these wrestlers wear this cool masks and this guy was like a real celebrity, and it was almost sort of like Abbott and Costello, you know, meets Frankenstein or whatever. It was like a very well known national figure fighting very well known, national monster. Yeah, Ridolfi Gutman helped a famous wrestler at the time, and we found we found some various clips of this film, you know, get made in nineteen seventy two and unwell in. I want to check it out. I want to watch the whole thing. I'll come back with a review, if oh, come back with a review. If there's interest, what makes it relevant for interest today's that this film spread word of the mummies outside of Mexico, and people began to learn about this on an international level yet. I mean, it started kind of became much more of a fixture of popular culture at the time, and it wasn't really replicated for many years, but it certain. Spread awareness and likely up the value to the government of this place. Right, right. And this leads us to the ethical question that we've run into before, you know, and the question is, is it right to display the bodies of these people? Certainly certainly not with their consent, and we don't know if their family members were asked if their family members consented. Yeah, there's actually a quote in this piece from the guardian that just talks about how there were no laws broken in doing this that the the Mexican people have a different attitude towards death. They don't, and it's kinda countered it when I said the beginning of the show, I would assume that it would be this would be very disrespectful. This would be considered like Harris. He kind of, you know, to disinter people's loved ones, but you know, the guy that's in charge of this place seems to think differently. Yeah, this guy Arturo to bear. Who is the head spokesman for the Guanajuato government set in the Daily Mail piece. I Mr. tribute to the guardian. Earlier that quote, the museum is an important part of Ghana. Does tourist appeal cast your first point. The museum breaks no laws and displaying its exhibit to visitors who are given fair warning graphic content. Here's the important part. We have a different cultural approach to death in Mexico. Here we celebrate the cycle of life and accept death as inevitable ninety nine percent of the visitors leave the experience pleased with what they saw. But here's the thing. So many of these infants in in the museum of which there are several are often dressed as saints. So there's one that goes by they call colloquially little Saint Martin who is basically the skeleton of tiny baby wearing the traditional garb of Saint Martin something called a cassock and holding a broom and holding rosary beads. And it is. Macab my friend. So include the mentioned the guardian because there's a guardian piece I remembered I wanted to bring up. It's called why Mexican celebrate the day of the dead by Tonio wife's and in their has this just stunning Octavio Paz quote about what he sees as the Mexican attitude with death. He says the Mexican is familiar with death jokes about it, caresses it sleeps with its, celebrates it true. There is much fear in his attitude as in that of others, but at least death is not hidden away. He looks at it face to face with impatience disdain or irony. And I think that's, you know, maybe that's maybe that's what makes it. Okay. Maybe this is an important thing rather than an expletive thing. You know what I mean? Because they can't be making that much money, right profit can't be the sole motivation, businesses, four thousand visitors a week. I mean, that's. A decent amount of cash. Yeah, guess it does add up? Yeah, sure. It's it's been open since the fifties. I mean, you know, yeah, you're right. I have a bit of a cash cow I knew say so myself. But I guess what I'm getting out of struggling with is there was even so this this tax was relinquished right? And at the end of the fifties eighteen fifty and nineteen fifty eight. But there actually was a recent addition to this collection was a baby that died in nineteen ninety nine at six months. So I want to clear something of real question. We actually had a little discussion off my the law that required the tax. There was a grave tax. Yeah, when away nine hundred fifty eight. But there was also like you still had to rent these spaces. You still have the least the lace, the land and like you would up reopen for like twenty years. Something like it started at like a five year. And then if you didn't come back, then they could still remove your loved ones corpse. And that happened with this baby in the really heartbreaking thing as apparently the baby is in the collection museum. Mm-hmm. And the mother who still living pretty regularly comes and visits her child. Yeah. And there's something description how this happened sounds remarkably cold. So if the if the family, this reviving relatives choose not to pay or re-sign on that lease, then the body is removed and it goes to the museum's curator and curator inspects the corpse to see whether it's good enough to be added to the collection. And I had earlier said the number was a hundred and eight corpses in the display, but I believe it's one hundred and eleven now because they have added some. Hey, everyone. We're ridiculous history, and we want to tell you about a brand new apple, discover an app just for investing. It's cold, Robin Hood. Answer I Robin Hood and investing in that lets you buy and sell stocks e f, s.'s options and cryptocurrencies all commission free. They tried to make financial services work for everyone including investment neophytes like me and Ben, not just the wealthy, gets none intimidating wave for stock market newcomers to invest for the first time with true confidence, you'll, let's go back to the some of the high points of this. I love that their commission fees, other brokerages may charge up to ten dollars for every trade, but Robin Hood does not full stop round who was actually kind enough to give us a little bit of scratch to invest. And we've been having a really good time doing. It's very intuitive, very clean. Other brokerages charge up to ten dollars for every robinhood does not charge us or you a dime, so you can trade stocks and keep all of your. Profits, the design, the ease of use. It's out of this world, easy to understand charts and market data place a trade and just four taps right on your smartphone. You can learn how to invest as you build your portfolio. You can discover new stocks and track favorite companies with your own personalized news feed, and you get custom notifications for price movements. So you never miss the right moment to invest. And today just for hanging out with ridiculous history. Robinhood wants to give you a free stock like apple Ford or sprint to help build your portfolio. Sign up at history, robinhood dot com. That's right. Go a history dot, Robin Hood dot com and sign up now. There wasn't too confusing with the difference between the grave tax and the the lease. 'cause they were two different things in threw me for a little bit, but. We, we, we got there. We didn't think so. What's what's next. This sounds like a place that I would be intrigued. I mean, I'm I'm into kind of like this sort of dark type stuff. I went to the museum of death in LA and quite enjoyed that. Even the some of it was even a little little much for me a lot of like embalming videos and you know, murder, crime, scene, photographs, and things like that. But do you think this is right then? Do you think this is of value to society to be able to experienced death in such a raw kind of detached way? It's interesting to. That's the question I asked earlier in the show, you know, ethically, is this more useful to humanity as as a memorial as a way of educating people or is exploited hate of it seems like the museum itself has a lot of support from the local community and it is of benefit to science because we're able to. Search the process of natural MoMA fixation, Texas State university had some great research on how this stuff occurs in how the environment interacts with the corpse. But I would say it's similar to did you ever see bodies exhibit? I never did, but I've seen photographs of the perfectly preserved cadavers where you see the muscles and all that fascinating. Yeah, where you see organs or the circulatory system or nervous system taken out and kind of plasticize to give you a better Lookie human anatomy. But those people when they were alive, didn't consent to that, right. Surely not in every case, and we have to ask ourselves, at what point does the benefit to science or the benefit to history outweigh the the ethical pitfalls of displaying someone's corpse after they die. I will say that I, if. I'm in that town. I will go visit just because I think it's in a way it with a war, like a memorial commemorating, the deaths of those people and these were not. These were not for the most part. These were not well off folks. These were sort of the point, right? These were common peop-. Yeah. I mean the idea they had to, you know, because I mean, rich people would have been able to buy a plot, right? And you certainly didn't have to lease. That's not the law says they couldn't afford to buy a grave plot. So they were able to Lisa one of these municipal cemeteries, Muslims or whatever, right. Absolutely. I would air on the side of scientific benefit and historical commemoration. Guanajuato mayor Dr Duardo Hicks at back in two thousand seven initiated the Guanajuato mummy research project and invited several scientists to go down and spend more than a year, exploring the origin and the development of the mummies. And it's also been a subject of National Geographic. Documentary series, which I'm gonna tell you the name of it. I haven't seen the series, but the name throws me off your ready. I am the mummy roadshow. Nice. So it's sort of like the antiques roadshow with mummies? Yeah, I feel yeah, that's a little glib. But in these recent years, they've learned a lot about the people, the individuals who were interred here in the later displayed in this museum, it's it's an incredibly interesting article. And if you would like to read it, let me know ridiculous historians and we just posted up there. And if you are person who does not wanna see the visuals of this stuff, we completely understand. This particular article has a no photographs. Oh, I think that's a pretty good place to leave. There's certainly if you're into photographs, there's plenty of them out there and these are really pretty upsetting images to be honest, but it's also their strangely beautiful. I want to say very haunting. As you may have gotten from that Ray Bradbury pass. And it really apparently severely affected him and that he felt the need to write this piece to kind of exercise of the demons from himself. And I could see that when it smells like in their been probably kind of musty like an old library or something because these these corpses would not have had a a smell of purification because everything was just dried up, right? The moment -cation happened. So rapidly a, like a lot of museums have probably just smells old and some inexplicable way, but our senses are so vulnerable to our pre existing mental states. Right? So maybe we are mentally capturing the smell. It probably probably smells like cleaning cleaning supplies because there's a lot of glass, so I'm sure they have to use the tunnel windex probably smells faintly clean. Yeah, we a little bit of chemical smell and I have a question too. So so far we have. We've covered a very interesting specific type of vampire native to the Phillips. Beans. We've looked at mummies, although they were not monster mummies from an old universal horror film or something. What particular monsters are historical cases of monstrosity should we should we look at next, we look at the trials of where wolves. That's always an interesting strange path to go on. One of the things we did the other night, and we had a game night at the game called wear wolf, where I ended up falsely accusing several of my closest friends and co workers of being where wolves and had them lynched, and they made them they were. They were village. They were townspeople the whole time and they'll be able to get myself for that. They probably won't be able to forgive you either. That's okay. I deserve it deserve, but in their memory, we should in fact research something about where wolves, I think that's smart. Yeah, let us know if there's a where we'll story. The particularly stands out to you. I'd love to Ben. You might be saying, but how on earth do I contact you guys? Well, it's. Simple. We've got good news. If you're on the internet, you can find us on Instagram. You can find us on Twitter. You can find us on Facebook imperturbable. Check us out on ridiculous historians, our Facebook community page, where you can talk with your fellow listeners, all of whom I assure you are brilliant, wonderful people with great taste and podcast, right? That's pretty good. Yeah, I support that. I'm let's thank our super producer. Casey Pegam for being super as always thanks to our friend and colleague, Alex Williams composed our theme. Thanks to Christopher hus- yoda's and Eve's Jeffcoat our research associates of thank you to Jonathan Strickland. Aka the quiz, daughter who's been quietly. I think. Folks, I suspect. No, really know you like him inference. Sure, whatever you say, but man, I will. I will try to keep the quiz do heat off of you may. I kidding? I welcome it. I need a little little kick in the pants every now and then who better to do it in that and before before. Thank you for bringing this story to the show. Oh, man, no problem. It was a lot of fun. That's not the right thing at all. It wasn't really fun at all this kind of disturbing and upsetting, but I'd rather I'd rather be disturbed and upset with in this world and you folks cenex. The rumors are true friends and neighbors. We are getting out of the podcast studio and hitting the road to visit a town near you on Tuesday, October twenty. Third, we're going to be at the armory in Boston on Thursday, October twenty. Fifth, we're going to be at the Arlington cinema draft house in Arlington, Virginia, that's near DC than Friday on October twenty six. We're going to be the world cafe live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Saturday twenty-seventh. We will be at the bell house in Brooklyn, New York, and we'll be returning to Atlanta Sunday tuber twenty eight for very special show at terminal west. No spoilers. But this is going to be a little bit different. It's going to be very much weird and we'd love for you to be part of the show, get out there and get a ticket while you can go to stuff, they don't want you to know dot com. Click on the live shows tab, and you'll see where you can get tickets right down there, get them now you better get him quick.

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