Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2,000-year-old mummy with intact organs

The mummy of the Zibo Lady is now on display in the Hunan Museum with soft skin and blood still in her veins.

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In 1971, construction workers in Hunan stumbled across the tomb of a woman and her husband and son. The tomb is so large that excavations have been underway for almost a year with more than 1,500 local volunteers. The identity of the mummy was later discovered that was Zibo Lady or the wife of a marquis who ruled the land about 2,200 years ago, during the Han Dynasty.
2,000-year-old mummy with intact organs
The lacquered coffin of Lady Zibo in the Hunan Museum. Photo: Cat's Diary / wikipedia.
When excavated, the tomb of Zibo contains more than 1,000 valuable antiques such as gold and silver statues, a collection of silk dresses, cosmetics, musical instruments, lacquerware, and exquisitely crafted household items.

Willow Weilan Hai Chang, director of the China Exhibition Institute in New York City, said the items show that Zibo once had a luxurious life, and wished everything would not change when it came to the afterlife world. 

In particular, the body of Zibo lady was wrapped in 18 layers of silk and linen, placed in 4 coffins interlocking in decreasing size. To prevent air and water from entering, the tomb was covered with coal and the top was sealed with clay. Such enclosed spaces work to prevent bacteria and preserve mummies. In addition, archaeologists found traces of mercury in the coffin and an unknown mild acidic liquid around her body.
2,000-year-old mummy with intact organs
The unknown fluid is thought to originate from the mummy's body. Photo: David Schroeter.
The autopsy of Zibo was carried out in December 1972. This shows that the woman died at age 50. Despite the deformed face, the mummy's skin was still soft, showing no signs of muscle spasms. Even arms and legs can still be folded and stretched. Scientists have identified Zibo with type A blood through what is left in the larynx and internal organs intact.

The Zibo's body has a complete autopsy record of ancient mummies. Scientists can reconstruct details about lavish diets and living habits as well as ways of hunting, producing and processing food more than 2,000 years ago.

In her day, Lady Zibo often enjoyed dishes for the nobility such as deer, sheep meats and fruits. Therefore, the small frame of Zibo has buckled due to obesity, she can only walk by walking sticks. Sedentary habits also cause arteriosclerosis, diabetes and some other diseases of the spine. Her stomach remained melon seeds, showing that she ate the fruit two hours before she died.
2,000-year-old mummy with intact organs
The wax figure restores the marquis lady's young age. Photo: Flazaza / Wikipedia.
The excavation of the marquis's tombs is considered to be one of the great archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Why her body is so resistant to decomposition to this day is still a secret. The mummies were buried in an air-tight, water-tight environment, similar to the shogun and her son that could not be preserved.

Nowadays, the mummy of Zibo is on display in the Hunan Provincial Museum. Here, visitors can admire 180,000 other artifacts, including bronze items from the Shang, Zhou dynasties, pottery, porcelain, calligraphy works, paintings over the period.

Brief information:

Hunan Museum is located at No. 50, Donfeng Street, Kaifu District, Changsha City, Hunan Province, China. Visitors can come here by bus number 131, 112, 146, 150, 58, 113, 901, 136 and 203.

The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays, except on Monday and New Year's Eve. Guests can reserve a free tour ticket through the museum's website or ticket gate with a passport. Some special exhibitions cost about 30 yuan (about 100,000 VND).

Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent. The museum strictly prohibits guests from carrying inflammable, explosives, dangers objects and food and drink. In addition, visitors are not allowed to film, photograph, use flash in the museum.

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