Let’s have a non-music, non-comedy, non-family-related post today, shall we?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a fascination with ancient history, specifically mummies. Whether Egyptian, Inuit, or Scandinavian bog, I’ve always found the concept of mummification fascinating, as we can see the various ways the peoples of the world try to hold on to immortality and preserve themselves for all eternity.

Most people think that the best mummies may be found in Egypt, but you’d be surprised to find that some of the best-preserved mummies may be found in China and in Greenland.

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Xin Zhui, more popularly known as Lady Dai, and the Inuit baby found in an icy grave in Greenland. I learned about the former through a special that Cathy watched on National Geographic (or was it Discovery?); I learned about the latter through an old issue of National Geographic that I read when I was a child.

Pictures of the immaculately preserved Inuit baby and Lady Dai (warning: not for the squeamish) after the jump.

Lady Dai. The body of Xin Zhui or Lady Dai, arguably the most perfectly preserved corpse ever found, was discovered near the Chinese city of Changsha in 1971. Buried securely with over 1,000 perfectly preserved artifacts, Lady Dai, wife to Lord Dai of the Han imperial fiefdom of Dai, was a privileged member of society. Among the many things found in her grave were fine lacquer dinnerware, exotic food, and fine fabric that surrounded her body.

Lady Dai is so well-preserved that scientists were able to bend her arms and extremities; melon seeds and other remains of her last meal were found in her well-preserved stomach; her skin was still supple; and her hair was intact. Most amazing of all, her type A blood still ran red in her veins, and her internal organs were all intact!

Even more amazing was to what extent scientists were able to trace her health problems! They found she suffered from parasites, had lower back pain and was terribly overweight at the time of her death. She had clogged arteries and a very damaged heart.

Scientists are still baffled as to what preserved the body of Lady Dai. Some say it may have been a mysterious liquid in which the body was immersed, traces of which were still found when her body was discovered.

Meanwhile, the Inuit baby was found along with six other women and another child, in a grave-like cave in Qilakitsoq, Greenland, in 1972. Dating of the bodies brings their age sometime to the 1400s.

The Inuit baby was so small that when the mummies were discovered, the baby was tossed to the side by some archaeologists, who assumed it was a doll belonging to the child mummy!

The baby and the other seven mummies were, in effect, freeze-dried after death, resulting in very little deterioration to clothes and body tissue.

What exactly killed the group is still unknown. Food was found in the women’s stomachs, so they did not starve to death. The mummies were well-dressed for extremely low temperatures, with the baby’s clothes even made from the skin of baby seals, with the soft fur turned inwards.

I’d blog more about other fascinating mummy discoveries, but I gotta get back to work. Meanwhile, you can Google ‘mummies’ and rediscover your world. 🙂

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