Mummy Mystery Grips Colombian Town

Created: 2012-12-13 20:45 EST


The mystery surrounding the natural mummies of San Bernardo, Columbia have confounded people for 55 years.

No one knows why these buried bodies are preserved so well but speculation abounds.

[Father Carlos Julio Cardenas Torres, Parish Priest of San Bernardo]:
"It is thought that it could be one of two possibilities. The first is the climate, the ground temperature of where we're at. The second, which is thought the more precise and concrete argument, is the food eaten.”

Many locals believe the regional diet, mainly a type of squash called chayote, is behind the preserved bodies.

Other believes it has to do with the cemetery location, which was moved in 1957 due to erosion near the old cemetery.

[Jose Del Carmen Rojas, Local]:
"I think the geographic location of the cemetery, the actual site. I think it is something to do with the universe, because it never happened at the old cemetery, never. No mummies ever came out of there.”

In Colombia it is customary to put the dead in an above ground tomb where the body remains for five years.

Then the family gathers up the remains-usually just bones- and moves them to a smaller nearby ossuary.

About 55 years ago these remains started coming out with skin, hair and clothing intact, and no one knows why.

The groundskeepers at the San Bernardo cemetery confirmed the bodies are not embalmed or treated with anything to preserve them.

Some families have allowed the town to display the mummified remains of their relatives in an effort to educate the public.

The mystery of the mummies has brought many tourists to the region and put this tiny little town on the map.