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Mexico's INAH Accuses Guanajuato Of Mummy Mishandling

Mummies are displayed in the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008. In Mexico, the federal archaeology agency accused the conservative government of Guanajuato state on Mon

Mexico's federal archaeology agency, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), has brought attention to the mistreatment of a mummified 19th-century body in the city of Guanajuato. The incident occurred during recent renovations at a museum where the mummified bodies are displayed, resulting in the detachment of an arm from one of the mummies.

The mummified bodies, dating back to the early 1800s and unearthed in the 1860s due to families' inability to pay burial fees, have been showcased in glass cases at a museum in Guanajuato for several years. The INAH has asserted its jurisdiction over the mummies, considering them as 'national patrimony,' while Guanajuato views them as a tourist attraction.

The INAH expressed concerns over the lack of proper protocols and conservation strategies followed during the museum renovations, leading to damages to the mummified body. The institute emphasized the importance of adhering to correct procedures and ensuring personnel are adequately trained for such tasks.

The preserved corpses in Guanajuato were unintentionally mummified in a dry, mineral-rich soil environment, retaining features such as hair, leathery skin, and original clothing. Despite being under local control, the approximately 100 mummies have been a subject of contention between federal and state authorities.

This recent incident is not the first time mummified remains have sparked national debate in Mexico. In 2023, concerns were raised about potential health risks posed by a mummy displaying fungal growths during a traveling exhibition. Additionally, historical instances, such as the removal of revolutionary Gen. Álvaro Obregón's arm in 1989 and the destruction of Antonio López de Santa Anna's leg in 1844, highlight the complex nature of preserving and handling human remains.

The Guanajuato city government has yet to respond to requests for comment regarding the recent incident. The INAH has vowed to investigate the permits and procedures followed during the museum renovations to ensure proper care and preservation of the mummified bodies.

For more news on Latin America and the Caribbean, visit AP's coverage.

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