In a Colombian city, bodies of buried people turn into mummies on their own – scientists don't know why

In the small Colombian town of San Bernardo, located in the Andes, people are not buried forever. To save space, they are exhumed after some time to bury other people. This is not surprising, because this is often done in Colombia, but what is happening at the cemetery in San Bernardo has greatly puzzled scientists – instead of decomposed remains, perfectly preserved mummified bodies are regularly discovered here. Since 1963, dozens or even hundreds of mummified bodies have already been recovered, many of which are now housed in a mummy museum. But scientists still cannot give an exact explanation for this phenomenon.

In a Colombian town, the bodies of buried people turn into mummies on their own — scientists don’t know the reason. In a Colombian town, people’s bodies turn into mummies for some reason. Photo source: Photo.

In a Colombian town, people's bodies are turning into mummies for some reason. Photo source:

Mysterious mummies from a Colombian town

Local residents discovered the first mummified body in the San Bernardo cemetery in 1963. Then they assumed that this was an isolated case, but over time, mummies began to be found more and more often. Moreover, some of them are so well preserved that they even have eyes, which usually quickly decompose.

Among the exhibits of the museum of mummies is the mummy of a woman, Saturnina Torres de Bejarano. She is wearing a rose-print dress and a green wool sweater – the clothes she wore when she was buried in 1993. In 2001, relatives found the mummified body of a woman with her hair, nails and most of her tissues intact. Her surprisingly well-preserved hands still clutch a fake red carnation.

IMPORTANT: Photos of real mummies may shock impressionable people. We did not insert them into the article, but if you want to look at these pictures, read to the end and follow the link to the news source.

Mummies began to be found especially often in the 80s – about fifty per year. Gradually, this figure began to decrease, and currently amounts to several mummies per year. However, this is also a lot, considering that no one mummifies bodies on purpose.

Mysterious mummies from a Colombian town. San Bernardo Mummies Museum. Photo source: Photo.

Mummy Museum of San Bernardo. Photo source:

Why people’s bodies turn into mummies

Many locals believe that mummification is a reward after death for being good in life. But scientists cannot find an explanation. According to one version, mummification is associated with the healthy diet of the local population, farming lifestyle and temperate climate.

The version is quite interesting, but some facts indicate that it is erroneous. For example, one of the mummies belongs to a man who lived most of his life in a big city, where he died. Relatives decided to bury him in his homeland, and over time they discovered that his body had been mummified.

No pattern in mummifications was identified either. That is, mummies were the bodies of people of different ages at the time of death, different genders and physiques. In addition, there is no specific area in the cemetery where mummies are found more often than in other places.

Why do people's bodies turn into mummies? San Bernardo has a humid climate. Photo source: Photo.

San Bernardo has a humid climate. Photo source:

It must be said that natural mummification itself is a phenomenon known to science for a long time. Previously, we talked about how one man's body was mummified in just two weeks. However, natural mummification requires a dry climate. But in the city of San Bernardo the climate is humid, which usually only promotes decomposition.

The secret of natural mummification of bodies

According to anthropologist Daniel Betancourt, an employee of the National University of Colombia, the secret lies in the location of the cemetery and the characteristics of the burial. The fact is that the cemetery is located on a steep mountain slope, where the wind constantly blows, which dehydrates the body. Let us remind you that for the same reason a man was mummified within two weeks.

People are buried in a cemetery not in the ground, as usual, but in crypts above the surface. As a result, the wind can blow over the corpses. True, for now this is also just an assumption. To get an accurate answer, scientists will have to conduct additional research.

The secret of natural mummification of bodies. In San Bernardo, people are buried in crypts. Photo.

In San Bernardo people are buried in crypts

It must be said that most local people prefer cremate the remains of your relatives. But some refuse to do this, including the Bejarano family. As reported by Science Alert, the relatives believed that if the body was destined to survive, then it did not need to be destroyed. Now they have the opportunity to visit their deceased relative in the museum, where she lies under glass.

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The Museum of Mummies, of course, can shock many. But in fact, it is not as horrifying as the Museum of Death in Paris, which existed 150 years ago. Let us remember that the exhibits here were real corpses. How and why this museum came into being can be read at the link.