The Complutense School of Medicine is having trouble staying out of the headlines.
In May, the Anatomy II department at the Madrid university was sealed off after employees reported that hundreds of bodies donated to science were piling up in varying states of decay inside its basement.
Then, on October 29, something truly unusual happened: an anatomy professor found a mummified corpse on the rooftop.
News of the strange discovery at the school had not reached the outside world until now. And the explanations offered so far are proving rather confusing.
“It’s an old desiccation area for bodies, a facility that was in use 25 to 30 years ago,” said a spokesperson at the Rectorate, the university’s management body. “It’s not like the mummy was exposed to the elements; it was protected in a proper spot.”
The same sources added that two skeletons were found next to the mummy.
Yet the internal note issued by the occupational hazard department says the following: “Yesterday, an incident occurred at the School of Medicine. We were examining a facility on the rooftop that contained a mummified body. Since neither the facility nor the activity meet minimum safety and hygiene requirements, the school has been asked to adopt the necessary measures to clean up the area and find a solution to the existing remains, either removal by a funeral company or, if it is some sort of experiment or scientific endeavor, a report detailing the pertinent preventive measures to be taken. We have been verbally informed that the mummified body is going to be removed shortly by a funeral company.”
As of Monday, nobody at the Madrid university was able to come up with an explanation of how, when and why those human remains ended up atop the medicine school. Nobody could say just how long they’d been there, either.
The original idea was to obtain a complete skeleton and use it for educational purposes”
“That area was fitted out for the Anatomy II department,” said the Rectorate source.
This department was eliminated after the summer following the scandal of the donated bodies, its director José Ramón Mérida was investigated, and Complutense president José Carrillo personally filed a complaint with the attorney’s office after it emerged that the bodies were being used irregularly for outside courses. That investigation is still underway, and a work inspector drafted a damning report that resulted in a €100,000 fine for the university. The Complutense has appealed the sanction.
As for the mummy, “the original idea was to obtain a complete skeleton and use it for educational purposes,” said the Rectorate spokesperson. “Probably [the remains] should be eliminated if they are not going to serve their original purpose. But they have always been carefully monitored.”
This newspaper was unable to confirm whether the rooftop remains have been taken away for cremation, as sources at the medicine school claim, or whether the dessication area is still there.