Some of these cases are just unbelievable.
I have always enjoyed looking into the past through pictures but to see someone from the past in such pristine form feels a bit unreal. As we know, when we die, our bodies begin to decay. However, for a few bodies, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here are 18 we know of:
1. Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924) : RUSSIA
This horrifyingly alive looking man is Vladimir Lenin – the father of Russian Communism and the first leader of the Soviet Union. His death was followed by the consecutive succession of his throne by Stalin.The government decided to preserve the body of Lenin for future generations. As no attempts to mummify a body for generations had ever been attempted before, the Russians had to invent a highly complex process of embalming. Lenin’s body requires extensive chemical baths, injections and evaluation. The body’s organs were removed and replaced with a humidifier and pumping system, designed to maintain the body’s core temperature and fluid intake. His mummy is so well preserved as is evident from the image that it looks as if he will wake up any time now.
When the Soviet Union existed, Lenin’s suits were changed once a year. Since the fall of the communist nation, the mummy’s suit is changed every five years.
Lenin’s trademark clenched right hand.
2. Eva “Evita” Perón (1919 – 1952) : ARGENTINA
When she died from cancer in 1952, Eva Perón was one of most beloved women in Argentina. She was the first wife of then Argentinean President Juan Perón. This fueled the decision to embalm her body. The procedure was performed by renowned professor of anatomy Dr. Pedro Ana. His embalming technique was so good, it was commonly referred to as the “Art of Death.” The procedure included replacing the blood and water weight with glycerin which preserved all internal organs, including the brain. The process took one year to complete. Her body is so life like that after it was stolen by the new government and hidden in Italy, a caretaker was driven mad by sexual fantasies of the body and fell in love with it. Later the body was returned to Argentina and buried with dignity.
Evita in 1952 just after the mummification process finished.
A colored the photograph shows how even in death, Evita is uncomfortably lifelike. She is effectively a wax figure after the mummification process replaced all water in the body with wax.
3. Rosalia Lombardo (1918 – 1920) : ITALY
Deep in the Catacombs of the Capuchin Monks in Sicily, inside a tiny glass casket lies the body of little Rosalia Lombardo. When she died in 1920 of pneumonia her father, General Lombardo, was devastated. He sought the services of Italian Embalmer Alfredo Salafia to preserve her. Using a mixture of chemicals including formalin, to kill bacteria, zinc salts to petrify the body and its organs, alcohol, salicylic acid and glycerin. The end result was nothing short of extraordinary. The body was so well preserved she came known as “Sleeping Beauty.”
The innocence on her face is so well preserved and evident that she is the most visited mummy in the catacombs. She has this uncanny attraction that makes her the most well preserved mummy in the world.
This X-Ray taken of Rosalia shows her brain and internal organs are intact although they’ve shrunk over time.
4. Lady Xin Zhui (Died 163 BCE) : CHINA
Also known as Lady Dai or Marquise of Dai, was the wife of Li Cang (??), the Marquis of Dai, during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). She gained fame more than 2,000 years after her death, when her tomb was discovered inside a hill known as Mawangdui, in Changsha, Hunan, China. She is undisputed, the single best preserved mummy ever found, not in terms of physical appearance, but in the simple completeness of her body. Unlike Lenin, her internal organs are perfectly intact, including her brain. Unlike Evita, her tissues are still soft to the touch and her limbs are bendable. Her hair is complete and there is Type-A blood in her veins! The condition of the body is such that an autopsy was performed. Now here is the most astonishing part, she is 2,100 years old! Meet Xin Zhui, aka Lady Dai, the Diva Mummy.
The state of the preservation has given Archaeologists the single most complete medical profile ever compiled of an ancient human being. The autopsy revealed many clues about her life. She was overweight, suffered from lower back pain, had clogged arteries and had a severely damaged heart. Basically she is the oldest diagnosed case of heart disease.
With her lips shrunken and curled back, her blotted tongue can be seen jutting from her mouth.
5. La Doncella (Death Estimated between 1450 and 1480): South America
Over 500 years ago, 15-year-old La Doncella and two other children were left to freeze to death by the Inca in a ritual sacrifice. Sitting cross legged high at Mount Llullaillaco, she was drugged with chicha and coca leaves to induce a heavy sleep, and left to die as an offering to the Sun God. In 1999, archaeologists discovered the remains of La Doncella and the two other children.
As if she could awake at any time, this mummy gives us the best look at how the ancient Inca dressed.
Strands of grey hair were found in her braids suggesting a very stressful life.
6. Dashi Dorzho Itigilov (1852 – 1927) : RUSSIA
He was a Russian Buddhist lama monk who died mid chant in the lotus posture in 1927. His last testament was a simple request to be buried how he was found. True to his wishes, he was buried in the lotus position, wearing the same robes he died in. In 1955, the monks exhumed his body and discovered it to be incorrupt. It was again exhumed in 1973 to the same discovery. In a time when Soviet anti theistic authorities policed the Russian State, the findings were not announced until 2002.
After being declared a sacred relic by the Buddhist conference, the body was placed in a name sake shrine where it remains outdoors to this day.
It is believed that dying mid chant results in a very peaceful face. Maybe that’s the reason behind this peaceful face.
7. Tollund Man (390 BC – 350 BC) : DENMARK
Would you believe this peaceful, careworn face is that of a 2,000-year-old bog body? Discovered by accident in 1950 in the bogs of the Danish Jutland Peninsula by some unsuspecting peat farmers. So well preserved was this Pre-Iron Age corpse that he fooled his discovers into thinking he was a present day murder victim. Turns out he’s a relic from the past, one of many bog mummies that have been found in Jutland.
Nearly sixty years of examination have revealed that this was a hanging victim possibly as a sacrifice. Rope marks were discovered around his neck and his tongue was swollen-common with hanging victims. An autopsy of the man’s stomach revealed a last meal of veggies and a variety of seeds, some wild, some not. Unfortunately preservation techniques in the 1950s were limited and ultimately only the Tollund Man’s head, feet and right thumb were permanently preserved.
8. The Tattooed Ukok Princess (Lived around 5th Century AD) : SIBERIA
If you need another reminder that tattoos are forever, the Ukok Princess proves the point. While her body itself isn’t particularly well-preserved, she is notable for the intricate tattoos that still paint her mummified skin, despite the fact that she died more than 2,500 years ago. She was around 25 years old when she passed away.Digital recreations show that her tattoos include animals such as deer, but with a mythical twist—the deer in her tattoo has Capricorn’s antlers and a griffin’s beak.Researchers believe she was a member of the Pazyryk tribe, who lived in the mountains of Siberia.These nomads held a deep-seated belief that tattoos helped people to find one another in the afterlife. Because of this, their tattoos were some of the most elaborate in the world at that time. Close to her remains, which were uncovered in 1993, were the remains of six horses, which were also thought to play an important role in escorting people into the afterlife.
9. St. Bernadette (1844 – 1879) : FRANCE
She was born a miller’s daughter in 1844 in Lourdes, France. Throughout her life, she reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary on an almost daily basis. One such vision lead her to discover a spring which has been reported to cure illness. 150 years later, miracles are still being reported.Bernadette died at age 35 from tuberculosis in 1879. During canonization, her body was exhumed in 1909 and was discovered incorrupt. She was exhumed again in 1919 where doctors noted that the body had mummified with some mold and deterioration to the skin in some areas. In 1925, her body was exhumed a third and final time. Two of her ribs were removed and sent to Rome. In a common move during the French canonization process, molds were taken of Bernadette’s face and hands and wax casts made and place over the face and hands. The body was placed in a reliquary in the Chapel of St. Bernadette where it remains today.
St. Bernadette when she was alive.
St. Bernadette’s body lays in a gold reliquary. Her face and hands have been covered in wax as customary with french incorrupt saints.
10. John Torrington (1825 – 1846) : BRITAIN
Sometimes mother nature can preserve a body even better than embalming can. Meet John Torrington, Petty Officer of the fabled Franklin Expedition to the Arctic Circle. He died of lead poisoning at age 22 and was buried in the frozen tundra along with three others at the expedition’s camp site. In the 1980s, his grave was exhumed by scientists in an attempt to discover the cause of the expedition’s failure. When they opened the coffins and thawed the solid block of ice inside, they were astonished, and frightened, by what was inside. John Torrington stared back at them, literally. Frozen in a block of ice for over 150 years, the body was perfectly preserved. The only sign of decay, the shriving of the eyelids and lips. He still wore the cloths he died in, arms and legs still tied together to make burial easier.
Archaeologists were giving quite a terrifying shock when they removed the blankets that covered John Torrington’s face. John Torrington was literally staring back at them. John’s nose is actually dark due to the blue wool blanket that was placed over his face by the Franklin crew. The polka-dotted cloth around his head was originally to keep his jaw closed before rigor mortis.
John Hartnell, buried alongside Torrington, was also found to be perfectly preserved
11. The Beauty of Xiaohe (Lived 3800 years ago) : CHINA
In 2003, archeologists excavating China’s Xiaohe Mudi Graveyards, discovered a cache of mummies including one that would become known as the Beauty of Xiaohe. Hair, skin and even eyelashes perfectly preserved, the woman’s natural beauty is evident even after four millennia. Her coffin was a wooden boat, filled with small pouches that contained herbs. She was dressed in a felted wool hat, designated her status as a priestess, something rare with women. Lived more than 3,800 years ago, she was a village leader. Due to the natural salinity, aridity and freeze drying properties in the air, Xinjiang has produced some of the best naturally preserved mummies in the world, of which the Beauty of Xiaohe represents.
Few mummies are found with everything that was buried with the body. This one offers clues as to her identity.
12. The Cherchen Man (Died around 1000 BC) : CHINA
Finding this mummy forced historians to rethink what they knew about the interaction of Eastern and Western Civilizations. For this 3,000 year old mummy is caucasian yet he was discovered buried in China. One of several hundred mummies that are now known as China’s Celtic Mummies. He was found alongside three women and a baby in Turkestan, China. The clothes he was wearing were equally as baffling and the mummy itself. Perfectly preserved, they were made of european wool.
DNA testing confirmed definitively that the Cherchen Man and those buried with him were indeed of European decent. Yet how he ended up in China is still an unsolved mystery. Carbon dating of items found in the tomb itself confirmed it was an ancient site and not a modern hoax. The dry salty air of the tomb is responsible for the perfect condition of the mummy and the artifacts which include wheat, wool cloths and blankets and even a baby bottle.
13. George Mallory (1886 – 1924) : UK
Lying face down in the frozen Everest slopes, lies the body of one of history’s lost pioneers, George Mallory. In 1924, he and his partner Andrew Irvin attempted the impossible; to be the first humans ever to summit the tallest mountain on Earth. Their last confirmed sighting was 800 feet from the summit top and they would never been seen alive again.
For 75 years the fate of the two climbers remained a mystery. Their disappearances made world headlines and the only evidence of the two men found was one of their empty oxygen bottles and an ice axe which belonged to Irvin. In 1999 a NOVA-BBC sponsored expedition was launched to try to find Mallory and Irvin. Within hours they made history, 700 feet below the location of the axe, a frozen body dressed in wool and fur was discovered. They believed to have found Andrew Irvin, but instead the name tags on the body’s tattered coats revealed the body as that of George Mallory.
The body was perfectly preserved. Only his clothing was in bad shape, ripped to shreds by the unrelenting wind. While no photos were ever taken of the body’s face, Anker reported that the face was undamaged, a solemn expression remained frozen onto its features. How Mallory died became apparent when a broken climbing rope was found tied around Mallory’s waist, suggesting that Irvin and Mallory were tied together and one of them fell. His ice axe was found just feet from his body leading researchers to believe that Mallory had stopped his own fall but an axe shaped puncture was found on his forehead also suggested that he was killed in the process.
Mallory’s broken right leg reveals just how violent the fall really was.
George Mallory when he was alive
14. Ramesses The Great (1303 BC – 1213 BC) : EGYPT
Ramesses II was a pharaoh who dutifully served Egypt during the 20th dynasty. For over a millennium, scholars have fiercely debated the events leading to his death. Thankfully, his body was treated with a complex array of different treatments following his death that preserved his mortal remains. Many questions were answered after his tomb was unearthed. CT scans discovered a deep cut on his throat, 7 centimeters (2.7 in) in length and going almost to his spine. This cut would have severed not only his major blood vessels, but his esophagus and trachea as well, ending the reign of one of the last great pharaohs of Egypt.
15. The Wet Mummy (Lived 700 years ago) : CHINA
Submerged for 600 years in a water logged coffin, a remarkably preserved Ming Dynasty mummy was discovered not in some rural village or a long lost mountainside crypt but in the center of town during a construction project! The five foot tall woman was fully clothed and buried with many fine pieces of jewelry including a silver hairpin that still held her hair in place and a huge jade ring on her finger. Atop her wooden coffin was a simple silver medallion known as an Exorcism Coin placed there to protect the body from evil spirits.
A huge jade ring found on the mummy’s hand.
She was discovered by accident under a construction site, immersed in a brown fluid that preserved her.
16. Otzi The Iceman (3300 BC -3255 BC) : ITALY
Ötzi the Iceman is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC (53 centuries ago). The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch, on the border between Austria and Italy. The nickname comes from Ötztal, the region in which he was discovered. He is Europe’s oldest natural human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Europeans. The cause of death was most likely a blow to the head. The body and his belongings are displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, northern Italy.
The Iceman how he was discovered in the Alps
17. The Grauballe Man (Late 3rd Century BC) : DENMARK
In the mid-20th century, several incredibly well-preserved bodies were discovered in a peat bog in Denmark. Among them, the Grauballe Man is the most fascinating. His still-haunted face, stark red hair, and perfectly discernible facial features also make him one of the most unsettling mummies to look at.Radiocarbon dating of his still-intact liver showed that he lived more than 2,000 years ago, and the evidence found with his body—or lack thereof—suggests that was killed as part of a sacrificial ritual. He died when he was about 30 years old, probably from a deep cut to the neck.
18. King Tutankhamun (1341 BC- 1323 BC) : EGYPT
He was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Tutankhamun was 9 years old when he became pharaoh and reigned for approximately 10 years, until his death. Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings (where he still resides) 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.
His reconstructed face. While Tutankhamun may be the most famous mummy in the world, he certainly is not the best preserved.
Howard Carter discovers the long fabled tomb of Tutankhaman