Due to their extraordinary condition the San Bernardo mummies are undoubtedly an enigma. The mummies simply refuse to decompose, and no-one can explain why.
Unlike other dead people, these bodies have been buried and somehow naturally preserved, the mummification process has taken place without any sort of accidental chemical intervention. How is it possible?
San Bernardo is a small town in Colombia about 3 hours south of Bogota. The mummies are not ancient, but nevertheless very intriguing. They bodies were discovered in the 1950s, when a flood forced people to relocate the local cemetery. When workers moved the graves they were started to discover several corpses that were still in excellent condition. The bodies showed no signs of decay or decomposition. Eyewitnesses said the San Bernando mummies seemed to be in a perpetual state of suspended animation. This is a mystery because unlike for example ancient Egyptian mummies or the strange mummies of Venzone, these bodies showed no sign of complicated mummification processes.
The people who had been buried here were neither famous nor rich. They were locals who had lived in the town and put to rest at the cemetery.
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Scientists have speculated how these bodies refuse to bow down to the inevitable passage of time and there are some theories, but none of them solves the puzzle. Some have suggested a local diet may explain why the bodies of the deceased are still in excellent condition. Apparently, the guatila and the baluthere are two unusual fruits commonly eaten in the area.
It is possible these fruits kept the people healthy, but the diet fails to explain why the clothes are still intact. The alleged diet doesn’t also explain why perfectly well-preserved mummies have only been found at one cemetery. This has led to the speculation that there may be some unknown organisms in the ground, at least at this particular place. Another possibility us that the climate in the area may be the reason why the dead refuse to rot. We simply don’t know how this natural, and yet unique mummification process happened.
The extraordinary well-preserved San Bernando mummies still puzzle the scientific community, and the cause has never been satisfactorily solved.
“I think the 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 from there,”one local said.
Family members have allowed bodies of their loved one to be put on display for educational purposes. Tourists can visit the mausoleum and see some of the best-preserved mummies.
Some of the best-preserved bodies are kept inside a glass case. One person is still dressed in jacket, tie and trousers. If it hadn’t been for the oddly pale face and sunken eye sockets giving him away as a corpse, you could hardly believe you are starring at someone who passed away a long time ago.