There’s a macabre fascination about old bodies and in Tenerife a collection of mummified remains of the original Guanche inhabitants are the star turn at the Museo De La Naturaleza y El Hombre (Museum of Nature & Man) in Santa Cruz. For the next three weeks they have to share their second floor limelight with three new crumbling remains that have come home from the School Of Legal Medicine in Madrid. The two females and one male were originally unearthed in La Orotava and Candelaria in the second half of the 19th century.
Best estimates date the Guanches as pre Christianity between 100 and 1,000 BC. They were very tribal and although primitive in many ways they were experts in preserving bodies. The original collection of six bodies and parts has its own alcove with corpses on shelves in glass cabinets surrounded by a collection of preserved internal organs. The new kids on the block include a headless body of a woman in her late 20s with some organs still visibly preserved inside her. A male of 34 even has signs of facial hair and a beard frozen in time.
It’s all very spooky, especially as the museum is rarely busy. I saw two other visitors on a Saturday afternoon. A bored security guard was sitting in a chair watching over the newly arrived glass cases lodged in a hallway. Was he expecting a Ben Stiller-type awakening? The large rambling museum puts the Guanches in context as you work up through fossils, skulls, and complete histories of plant and animal life for all seven Canary Islands.
Very recent history gets a look in on the ground floor with Las Restingolitas, a small collection of volcanic debris thrown up from the October 2011 sea eruption of El Hierro, backed up by film of the action. Like all exhibits in the museum, information is in a range of languages including English. Sadly the bono bus ticket discount no longer applies but at just €3 to get in and €1.50 concessions, you can’t go wrong, and on Sundays it’s free entry. Open 9am to 7pm, closed Mondays; the museum is at Calle Fuente Morales, between the main bus station and Plaza de España. You have until 10 February to see the new mummies so pop along, they will be thrilled skinny to see you.
Category : days out
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