information about the mummy
In 1966 in a
cave near Chihuahua, Mexico, two mummies (Lemon Grove Girl and an infant)
were discovered by two California teenagers. The teens had gone to
Mexico in search of their very own mummy. They had heard that local
Indian tribes had once buried their dead in caves around Chihuahua;
because of the cool dry air of the caves, the bodies often became
quite serious about wanting to find a mummy. Consequently, they spent
more than a month exploring caves. Finally, they found not one, but two
mummies: a 15 year-old girl and a 1 year-old girl. The teens packed
their mummies, smuggled them across the border and took them home.
But what do
you do with two mummies when you get home? Turn them into lamps? Use
them as a foot rest? Display them as art objects? The teens had no idea
either. And apparently because they did not want to share this
information with their parents, they eventually asked a friend if they
could store a box in her garage in Lemon Grove, California.
years, the mummies of the girl and the infant remained in the Lemon
Grove garage, until the mother of the friend began to clean out her
garage. Of course, she was shocked to find the body of the girl in a
carton. Shaken, she thought a murder had taken place and called the
police. When they arrived and inspected the box, they realized that two
bodies were in the box (the girl and the infant) and that both were
mummies, not necessarily murder victims.
the police conducted their investigation, the mummies were taken to the
Museum of Man in San Diego which is known for its mummy collection.
Shortly, the police tracked down the two teens, now men. They told
police how they had found the mummies, smuggled them into the U.S., and
stored them in their friend's garage. Now, to make amends, they wanted
to donate the mummies to the San Diego's Museum of Man. Of course, the
mummies were not theirs to donate. (This would be similar to a robber
stealing your car and then donating it to a charitable organization; the
car would not be his to donate.) This
did not stop the Museum of Man, however, from pursuing the
donation. Museum officials contacted Mexican authorities and asked
for permission to keep the mummies, to use them in an upcoming
exhibit and them as an addition to the permanent collection.
Permission was granted, and the Museum carefully studied the
mummies before placing them on exhibit, where (as of August 2001)
the Lemon Grove Girl is still on display. A book was published
about the scientific studies.
special about the mummy
- Stolen Body on Display.
The Museum of Man contains the only display in the United States
where a stolen mummy is on display.
American Mummy on Display. Interestingly,
if the mummies had been American Indians (rather than Mexican
Indians), they would have been repatriated to their ancestral tribe and
reburied. It is now against the law in the United States to display the
remains of American Indians. Because they came from Mexico, where no
such laws about mummies exist to my knowledge, they were allowed to
remain at the Museum of Man: stolen, smuggled, hidden, and (in the case
of Lemon Grove Girl) now
displayed, the mummy of a Mexican Indian.
days of technological wonders, it would be quite easy to make a
reproduction of the body and display it in a Lucite box. In these days
of heightened sensitivities, it would be admirable to return the mummies
to their people. The girl, it is believed, died between the years A.D.
1040 and 1260. A DNA sample could easily be taken from her body and
possibly traced to her living descendants.
As of my
last visit, the Lemon
Grove Girl is on display at San Diego's Museum of Man in Balboa Park. If
you should go to the Museum of Man, you shouldn't have a hard time
locating her in the Ancient Egypt and Mummies exhibit. She will be
behind glass, as shown in the picture above, curled in her burial
position; her body will look quite dry.
information about the mummy
to Make a Mummy Talk by James
M. Deem tells the story of the Lemon Grove
But the main source
Mummies from Chihuahua, Mexico: A Multidisciplinary Study
by Rose A. Tyson and
Daniel V. Elerick
(eds.). The book is listed by Amazon as currently out of stock (most
likely out of print), but you can sign up to order a used copy (should
one become available). You also might be able to find the monograph, published by the San
Diego Museum of Man, in the museum's bookstore.