Mummies have always been fascinating to scientists, archaeologists and historians. There have been several discoveries of mummies from around the world. Some of the discoveries have been a mystery. Few of the mummified people are famous. They are famous for being mysterious and well-preserved. We learn a lot of new things from these ancient mummies. We get to know about their culture, dressing and habits. Most importantly we learn more about our history and human civilization. Which are the most famous mummies in the world?
Let’s check the list of 10 historically famous mummies who were frozen in time:
10. Ramesses the Great (Ramesses II)
The mummy of Ramesses II is one of the most famous in the world. He was often regarded as the most powerful, greatest and most celebrated in the Egyptian Empire. Ramesses II was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He was originally buried in the tomb KV7 in the Valley of the Kings. Because of looting, the body was shifted to the tomb of queen Inhapy. After three days again the body was shifted to the tomb of the high priest Pinudjem II. Today the body of Ramesses II is in the Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. He was 90 when he died.
The body of Ramesses the Great was examined and found that he had strong jaw line. A French Egyptologist, Gaston Maspero first unwrapped the pharaoh. He had thick hair at the polls of his head and lesser hair near the temple area. It was also found that the king had arthritis during the last decades of his life. The king’s hair is originally thought to be red in color. It was the first mummy to get an Egyptian passport. Due to deteriorating conditions of the mummy, it was taken to Paris was examination and preservation.
9. The Tollund Man
Tollund Man is a natural mummy from a small village of Tollund, Jutland Peninsula, Denmark discovered in 1950 in a peat bog. According to radiocarbon dating, the man lived around 4th century BC during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Physically the body was so well-preserved that it was initially thought to be a recently dead victim. One of the wives of brothers Viggo and Emil while helping to cut the peat noticed the corpse. The acid in the peat, lack of oxygen underneath the peat and the cold weather of the Nordic countries helped in the perfect preservation of the body. Upon examination and X-rays, doctors found that his heart, lungs and liver were well-preserved and his head was undamaged. The likely cause of the man’s death was due to strangulation by hanging. Scholars believe that his death was due to a human sacrifice.
8. Cherchen Man
Cherchen Man is the best known Tarim mummies. The man is found to have died around 1000 BCE. His highly well-preserved remains were found in Tomb 2 at the cemetery of Zaghunluq in Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, China. The desert’s arid condition with salty soil helped in the natural mummification process. The cold temperatures would have killed the bacteria responsible for decomposition. The man was buried in tomb made of mud bricks. The tomb had toppings of reed and brush. The adult mummy has Caucasoid facial features. His looks are often described as “Bronze Age European”. Few sources describe the yellow and red marks on his face as tattoos but are most likely ochre paint.
7. Grauballe Man
Grauballe Man is a mummy that was recovered from a peat bog in 1952 near the village of Grauballe, Denmark. The man’s body is from the 3rd Century BC, Germanic Iron Age. This is one of the best preserved bog bodies in the world. It has been attributed as “one of the most spectacular discoveries from Denmark’s prehistory”. For over two millennia the body has been naturally preserved in the bog. He was in his 30s when he died. His hands and legs have been incredibly preserved which has helped scientists to get his fingerprints. Immediately after its discovery, the body was taken to Prehistoric Museum in Aarhus for research and conversation. In 1955, the body was taken to Moesgaard Museum near Aarhus where it is on display.
6. Saint Bernadette
Saint Bernadette Soubirous is a famous saint from Lourdes, France. She was born on 7 January 1844. She is famous for the Marian apparitions of a “young lady” who asked for a chapel to be constructed at the nearby garbage dump of the cave-grotto at Massabielle. After her death on 16 April 1879, Soubirous’s body remained internally incorrupt.
The first exhumation of her body was on 22 September 1909 where the church representatives found that her body was void of decomposition. The church exhumed the corpse for the second time on 3 April 1919 and the doctor examining the body noted that the body was naturally mummified. Though, there were some loss of skin at certain places, majority of the body was intact. In 1925, the body was exhumed again by the church. The relics were taken to make wax casts. This time they noticed a black tinge on her face and the sunken eyes.
5. Rosalia Llombardo
Rosalia Lombardo is a famous posthumous kid who died before completing her second birthday. She is famous for being well-preserved as the dead girl looks like she is sleeping in her tomb. Her tomb is in Capuchin catacombs of Palermo, Italy. The Italian girl died of pneumonia and her father decided to embalm her. The highly grieving father Mario Lombardo approached a renowned embalmer Alfredo Salafia to conduct the procedure. Salafia did a remarkable job. X-ray images of the girl shows that all the internal organs are intact. The body now lies in the Capuchin catacombs and is one of the best preserved bodies in the catacomb. After signs of decomposition of the body as noted in a photograph by National Geographic, the coffin was hermetically sealed with glass enclosure and nitrogen gas to prevent decay.
4. Xin Zhui, The Ancient Princess of China
After 2,000 years after the death of Xin Zhui or Lady Dai or Marquise of Dai, she became famous. She was the wife of Li Cang, the Marquis of Dai during the Han Dynasty. Her tomb was discovered inside a hill known as Mawangdui, Hunan, China in 1971 by some workers. The body of Lady Dai was exceptionally preserved with many valuable artifacts. Lavish burials were common during the Han Dynasty. At the age of 50, on 163 BCE Xin Zhui had a heart attack which was the cause of her death. An impressive preservation technique with an unknown liquid had kept her body and internal organs intact. Her joint muscles were still functioning. The skin was soft and moist. All her body hair was intact. All the credit goes to the remarkable preservation techniques during the Han Dynasty.
3. King Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun or King Tut was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. The pharaoh died at a very young age of 18. He was born on 1341 BC and was dead by 1323 BC. The discovery of Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 led to world-wide press coverage. The discovery led to a renewed level of public interest in Tutankhamun’s death mask and the in ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun’s mask now lies in the Egyptian Museum and remains a popular symbol. In 2013, Egyptologist Dr. Chris Naunton and scientists from the Cranfield Institute studied the King Tutankhamun’s mummy and conducted a “virtual autopsy” on the body. They found that the embalming oil on the linen with oxygen led to a natural combustion with temperatures of 200 °C. They also found fractures on his bones.
2. Ötzi the Iceman
Ötzi is the nickname given to a man who lived around 3400 and 3100 BCE. He is one of the most well-preserved natural mummies in the world. In 1991, a group of hikers found a 5,300 years old Neolithic man in the Ötztal Alps, Austria & Italy. He is the oldest known European natural mummy ever found. The body of the old man was remarkably intact due to the cold conditions including his clothes. The hikers also found the man’s belongings like bow & arrow, dagger and other tools. Interestingly, the man is older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge. The frozen man and his belongings are available for display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.
1. Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin is a famous Russian communist revolutionary politician and political theorist. He is the mastermind behind the political theories known as Leninism. Lenin was head of government of Soviet Russia and Soviet Union. On 21 January 1924, the leader died due to incurable disease of the blood vessels. He was kept in a red coffin by leading Bolsheviks for public display. On 23 January, thousands of mourners from Communist Party, trade unions, and soviets hit his Gorki home to pay homage. The body was taken by train to House of Trade Unions in Moscow. Over the next 3 days, around a million people came to pay their respect.
On 27 January, the corpse was placed into the vault of a specially erected mausoleum in Red Square. His corpse was mummified for a long-term public display in Red Square mausoleum. During the process, Lenin’s brain was removed. The body was frozen in time and is in display in Lenin’s Mausoleum today.