As a culture, we’re obsessed with death. Always have been and, by all indications, always will be – we love ghosts and ghost stories, we visit graves, old houses, that body exhibit, and the list goes on and on.
If your own fascination is pretty intense, well, you’re in for a delight with the pictures below. If you’re only mildly interested, then you might be up a little later than usual tonight.
Sorry not sorry.
12. Tollund Man
When some peat farmers in Denmark discovered this pre-Iron Age corpse in 1950, it was so well-preserved that they thought it was a murder victim. Upon closer examination, they realized what they had found – one of the now infamous “bog bodies.”
The man is believed to have been a hanging victim due to the rope marks and his swollen tongue, possibly due to a sacrifice. His last meal was veggies and seeds.
11. The Cherchen Man
This 3,000-year-old caucasian mummy was found buried in China, a fact that forced historians to rethink everything they knew about the interaction between east and west – in fact, his clothes were even made of European wool.
DNA testing confirmed that the Cherchen Man was of European descent, but how he ended up in China is a mystery.
10. Eva (Evita) Peron
It took Dr. Pedro Ana a full year to complete the embalming process on the first wife of then-Argentine President Juan Peron, which included replacing blood and water weight with glycerin. His technique was so good that people referred to it as the “Art of Death.”
After a rather incredible 20 year jaunt around the globe, her body has been returned to Argentina and given a proper burial.
9. Saint Bernadette
Born a miller’s daughter in 1844, the Frenchwoman reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary almost every day. She claimed Mary led her to a stream that could cure illness. She died herself from tuberculosis at age 35 (guess the stream didn’t work for her), and when her body was exhumed for canonization 30 years later, it was intact.
The same results were found in 1919 and again in 1925, after which two of her ribs were removed and sent to Rome before her body was placed in the Chapel of St. Bernadette.
8. George Mallory
In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvin attempted something no one had accomplished before – to reach the top of Mount Everest. They were last seen 800 feet from the summit, and for 75 years, they were neither seen nor heard from again.
But in 1999, a NOVA-BBC expedition discovered the perfectly preserved body of Mallory, dressed in wool and fur. His face was intact, as well, with a forehead wound in the shape of an axe. Evidence suggests that he and Irvin were tied together when one or both of them fell.
7. Rosalia Lombardo
What’s creepier than dead kids? Not much.
When 2-year-old Rosalia Lombardo died from pneumonia, her father was (understandably) devastated and commissioned embalmer Alfredo Salafia to preserve her body. He did so using formalin (to kill bacteria), zinc salts (to petrify the body and its organs), alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin. He did such a good job that she’s still known as ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ and is one of the most visited corpses in the Catacomb of the Capuchin Monks in Sicily.
6. John Torrington
He looks a bit like the Cowardly Lion in a cheap production of The Wizard of Oz, but hell, for a man who wasn’t preserved on purpose, he’s pretty darn intact.
John Torrington was a Petty Officer in the Franklin Expedition to the Arctic Circle, and he died of lead poisoning at age 22. The others buried him in the frozen tundra at the camp site, where some scientists stumbled on his body, still frozen in a block of ice.
The only signs of decay are the shriveled eyelids and lips, and the nose, turned blue by the blanket they used to cover his face.
5. Ramses the Great
A pharaoh of the 20th dynasty, the cause of Ramses’s death was long a topic of debate. His remains were intact enough for a CT scan, which revealed a deep cut in his throat that would have severed his trachea and esophagus, almost slicing into his spine.
4. La Doncella
Over 500 years ago, this 15-year-old Inca girl was left to freeze to death, along with two other children, as a ritual sacrifice to the Sun God. Her body still sits cross-legged as it did atop Mount Llullaillaco, and her clothing gives us a great insight into the tribal dress of the time.
She also had grey hairs, which suggested that her life was no picnic even before she was chosen for the sad duty.
3. The Beauty of Xiaohe
It’s rare to find a mummy so old – 3,800 years – with so many of her items of clothing still with her. The “Beauty of Xiaohe” has her skin, hair, and eyelashes perfectly preserved, and her coffin is also filled with herbal pouches. Her felted wool hat means she was likely a priestess.
2. Otzi the Iceman
This mummified man lived around 3300 BC, but was found near the Schnalstal glacier in the Otztal Alps back in 1991. He’s the oldest natural human mummy found in Europe, and the discovery gave archaeologists great insight into Copper Age Europeans. He died from a blow to the head.
His remains are on display in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy.
1. Dashi Dorzho Itigilov
In 1927, this Russian Buddhist monk died mid-chant, in the lotus position. Since his wishes were to be buried how he was found, that’s exactly how the other monks put him in the ground.
The weird part is that when his body was exhumed in 1955, and again in 1973, it hadn’t changed at all. It has since been declared a sacred relic and resides outdoors in a namesake shrine.
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