Mexican government: Staff mishandling caused 19th century mummy’s arm to come off


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s federal archaeology agency on Monday accused the conservative-governed city of Guanajuato of having a little oopsie with one of the country’s famous mummified 19th-century bodies.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, shared that during recent renovations at the museum where the mummified bodies are on permanent display, the arm of one of the mummies decided to take a little vacation.

You might think this whole ordeal is about treating these long-gone souls with respect, buried way back in the early 1800s and dug up since the 1860s because their families forgot to pay the bill.

But, lo and behold, these mummies have been chilling in glass cases in a museum in Guanajuato for quite some time, making occasional guest appearances at tourism fairs. They even had a little field trip to the United States in 2009.

At the heart of this saga seems to be a close competition between INAH and Guanajuato over who gets to call the shots with these mummies – the feds claim dibs because they’re “national patrimony,” while Guanajuato sees them as a major attraction for visitors. It’s like a custody battle over some creepy ancestors.

INAH is demanding to know what magic spells and permits were waved around during the museum renovations.

“These events confirm that moving the museum’s pieces around is a no-no, and the way things went down didn’t exactly prioritize proper care and conservation strategies, resulting in damages, not just to this specific body,” INAH wrote in a statement.

No word on whether any other mummified parts decided to make their grand escape.

“Seems like this mix-up might be due to a lack of proper protocols and a case of the blind leading the blind among the museum staff,” INAH pointed out.

The Guanajuato city government is keeping mum for now.

These accidentally mummified bodies got their makeover thanks to being laid to rest in soil full of minerals in Guanajuato, making them look like they just stepped out of a zombie makeover contest. Some even still have their hair, leathery skin, and snazzy old outfits.

INAH isn’t too pleased that Guanajuato officials, not their own crew, get to babysit around 100 mummies. Mostly dug up before INAH was even a thought in 1939, these mummies have been under local rule, much to the irritation of federal bigwigs.

In 2023, INAH was worried that a mummy on tour might be a health hazard because it seemed to be growing mold. That’s one way to get people to stop asking for mummy hugs.

This isn’t the first time a supernatural discovery became a national comedy skit.

In 1989, the Mexican government got major side-eye after snatching revolutionary General Álvaro Obregón’s arm – lost in a skirmish back in 1915 – which had been hanging out in a jar of formaldehyde for 50 years. Visitors were all like, “That’s not a good look,” so they roasted it and gave the arm a proper burial.

In 1838, Antonio López de Santa Anna, who played president of Mexico 11 times, had his leg amputated in battle. His leg was laid to rest with all the honors, but by 1844, an angry mob accused him of being a traitor and had a little bonfire with the leg in the streets of Mexico City. Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down.

Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City.

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