Famous Mummified Bodies
Mummies of humans and animals have been found throughout the world.
1. Lady Dai
In 1971 workers in China digging an air raid shelter near the city of Changsha uncovered an enormous Han Dynasty-era tomb containing over 1,000 well-preserved artefacts, as well as the most perfectly preserved corpse ever found. The tomb belonged to Xin Zhui, wife of the Marquis of Han who died between 178145 BC, around 50 years of age. Her body is so well preserved that when found it was autopsied as if recently dead and her skin was supple, limbs could be manipulated; hair and internal organs were intact; remains of her last meal were found in her stomach and type A blood still ran red in her veins. Examinations have revealed that she suffered from parasites, lower back pain, clogged arteries, had a massively damaged heart (an indication of heart disease brought on by obesity, lack of exercise and an overly rich diet) and was overweight at the time of her death.
The mystery of Lady Daihas not yet been solved. Scientists believe contributing to her remarkable preservation was the 22 dresses of silk and hemp and 9 silk ribbons she was tightly wrapped in. Clothes filled the coffin, which was perfectly sealed, keeping air out. There were inner and outer tombs, which were more than 50 feet below the earth as well as the four coffins she was buried in, each inside the other. However, some scientists suspect the real key to her preservation lies in the mysterious unidentified reddish liquid found in the coffin she was discovered in. To intensify the mystery, two other tombs containing bodies in a similar state of preservation have been found close to Lady Dai Sui Xiaoyuan and Ling Huiping. Her 2,000-year-old body is currently housed in the Hunan Provincial Museum.
2. King Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun approximately 1341 BC 1323 BC , was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. Tutankhamun was 9 years old when he became pharaoh and reigned for approximately 10 years, until his death. Tutankhamuns tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922 almost completely intact the most complete ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found. Eternal life was the main focus of all Ancient Egyptians, which meant preserving the body forever. Egyptians mummified bodies because they believed in an afterlife. Believing that the afterlife was much like life in this world they had to preserve their bodies so they would be able to use them after they die. Egyptian culture believed the body was home in the afterlife to a persons Ka, Ba and Akh, without which it would be condemned to eternal wandering. The Ka was a less solid duplicate of the body. Without a physical body, the soul had no place to dwell and became restless forever.
The Ba was able to leave the tomb and revisit the dead persons haunts in the mortal world. The Akh was the immortal soul that emerged when the Ka and the Ba united after the deceased person passed judgement. The mummification process lasted for a period of 70 days, applied to all classes of Egyptians rich or poor. The 70-day mummification process was as follows: 15 days spent on cleansing and purification, 40 day drying period and 15 days wrapping and bandaging. Tutankhamun has become one of the most famous Egyptian mummies, his death mask becoming one of the most iconic images of the world today. The cause of Tutankhamuns death is unclear and is still the root of much speculation.
3. Rosalia Lombardo
Rosalia Lombardo was an Italian child born in 1918 in Palermo, Sicily. She died on December 6th 1920 of pneumonia. Rosalias father was so sorely grieved upon her death that he approached Dr. Alfredo Salafia, a noted embalmer and taxidermist, to preserve her. She was one of the last corpses to be admitted to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo, Sicily and one of the most well-known. Her preservation is such that it appears as if she were only sleeping, hence receiving the nickname Sleeping Beauty. She is considered one of the worlds best-preserved bodies and it is hard to believe she died nearly 90 years ago. For many years, the formula that preserved her so magnificently was a mystery, but it has recently been discovered that she was injected with a mixture of formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin.
Formalin, now widely used by embalmers, is a mixture of formaldehyde and water that kills bacteria. Dr. Salafia was one of the first to use this for embalming bodies. Alcohol, along with the arid conditions in the catacombs, would have dried Rosalias body and allowed it to mummify. Glycerin would have kept her body from drying out too much, and salicylic acid would have prevented the growth of fungi. According to Melissa Williams, executive director of the American Society of Embalmers, it was the zinc salts that were most responsible for Rosalias amazing state of preservation. Zinc, which is no longer used by embalmers in the United States, petrified Rosalias body. [Zinc] gave her rigidity. You could take her out of the casket, prop her up, and she would stand by herself.
4. Tollund Man
Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man (a bog body) who lived during the 4th century BC during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was found in May 1950, buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. The head and face were so well-preserved that at the time he was mistaken for a recent murder victim, however, he was later found to have died over 1,500 years ago. Autopsies have shown that the cause of death was hanging the rope left visible furrows in the skin beneath his chin and at the sides of his neck, however, there was no mark at the back of the neck where the knot of the noose would have been located. The body is displayed at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, though only the head is original, and is attached to a replica of the body.
Gingeris the nickname given to the naturally preserved body of an adult man (believed to be the earliest known ancient Egyptian mummified body), who despite having died more than 5,000 years ago, had perfectly preserved golden hair, and even toe and fingernails. Ginger was found in at Gebelein, Egypt, and dates to the Late Predynastic period, around 3400 BC, or earlier. Before mummification was developed, human remains were placed in shallow graves, in direct contact with the hot, dry sand, which absorbed the water that constitutes 75% of the human weight. Without moisture, bacteria cannot breed and cause decay, and the body is preserved. However, it is uncertain whether Gingers mummification was intentional or not, though since Ginger was buried with some pottery vessels it is likely that the mummification was a result of preservation techniques of those burying him. Ginger is currently on display in the British Museum.
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