These Villagers Live With The Mummies And Chat With Them While Sipping Tea!

These Villagers Live With The Mummies And Chat With Them While Sipping Tea!

Venzone, a fortified Italian city, holds one of the most extraordinary stories. After being completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1976, Venzone was rebuilt stone by stone to mirror its medieval past. But what truly sets Venzone apart is its unique tradition of living with mummies. Yes, you read that right – the villagers of Venzone live alongside mummies and treat them as part of their daily lives. This unusual practice was first brought to the world’s attention by an American photographer, Jack Birns. Jack stumbled upon villagers sipping tea, chatting, and eating with these mummies. But the question is why? Let’s dive in!

Living with the Mummies: Daily Life in Venzone

In the 1950s, Jack Birns, an American photographer, found himself lost in the Alps. He was on the lookout for a place to rest in the village of Venzone. What happened right before his eyes shocked him. An elderly man was casually sipping tea with a mummy!

Birns captured this surreal moment and shared it with the world through Time magazine’s supplement, Life. The photos created a global buzz and showed Venzone’s strange relationship with their mummies.

Image source: Life

The villagers took the mummies and made them a part of their daily routines. It even included activities like drinking tea, attending church, eating, chatting and even sleeping in the same space. To them, the mummies weren’t just ancient remains. They thought God had sent their ancestors to protect the village while still alive (since they were not familiar with mummification at the time).

The villagers thoroughly believed that their ancestors were watching over them. This way of belief created a unique bond. They often went to the mummies and even shared their troubles in life.

Image source: Life

The Discovery and History of The Mummies

The Venzone mummies were first discovered in the 16th century during the construction of the Venzone cathedral. As construction crews worked, they stumbled upon 42 mummified bodies in the cathedral’s crypt. Including the infamous “Hunchback of Venzone.” These mummies gained popularity and were studied in places like the University Cabinet of Padua, and the Museum of Vienna. They even intrigued Napoleon.

In the 19th century, the mummies were moved from the cathedral crypt to the Upper Chapel and later to the Chapel of San Michele. They became an important part of Venzone’s history and were exhibited internationally.

Image source: Life

The Reconstruction of Venzone: Stone by Stone

The earthquake of 1976 was a devastating blow to Venzone, reducing the city to rubble. However, the hope to preserve their historical and cultural heritage led to a careful reconstruction. The city was rebuilt stone by stone, maintaining its medieval charm. The mummies played a significant role in the community’s daily life even after the reconstruction.

Image source: Wikipedia / Egypt today

The Mysterious Cause of Mummification

The mummification process of Venzone’s mummies remains a mystery. Unlike other mummies, these were preserved naturally. Various hypotheses also came forth to explain this phenomenon.

One popular theory suggests that a fungus, “Hypha tombicina,” prevalent in the tombs and wooden coffins, caused the mummification. However, this theory is still speculative, as the conditions necessary for the fungus’s life and reproduction remain unknown.

University of Minnesota professor Arthur C. Aufderheide proposed another theory. The theory is attributed to the preservation of the limestone floors of the tombs. Aufderheide’s studies did not find any traces of the Hypha fungus, leading him to believe that the limestone created a suitable environment for mummification.

Despite these theories, the exact cause of the mummification remains unconfirmed, adding to the intrigue and mystery of Venzone’s mummies.

Image source: Life


The relationship between Venzone’s villagers and their mummies is a unique blend of history, mystery, and daily life. This practice not only preserves the memory of their ancestors but also highlights the importance of maintaining cultural traditions. The story of Venzone’s mummies continues to captivate and inspire curiosity, inviting us to explore the fascinating intersection of history and the unexplained.

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