Korean Mummies!

Did you know there are mummies in Korea? I didn’t, until I found this article from 2007 on National Geographic. (Apparently, archaeologists didn’t, either, until the bodies started showing up, as old cemeteries were moved to make way for new houses in the recent construction boom.)

This person lived about 500 years ago and was found in South Korea. According to National Geographic, the mummification is perhaps the result of a burial practice that evolved in 14th-century Korea:

"The people believed the body should dissolve in a natural manner, without external factors such as worms," said Mark Spigelman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who is known for his pioneering studies of ancient diseases found on mummified bodies around the world.

"This is why they developed a special burial custom."

The method involves laying a body on ice for 3 to 30 days during mourning, placing the corpse inside an inner and an outer pine coffin surrounded by the deceased’s clothes, and covering the coffin in a lime soil mixture.

"In some cases, this inadvertently resulted in extremely good natural mummification," Spigelman added. "They didn’t expect mummification and, in fact, that’s the one thing they wouldn’t want."

This method—unlike the artificial (and brittle-making) mummification processes used in ancient Egypt—resulted in mummies that are relatively pliable, with better preserved DNA. Researchers were even able to take samples from one mummy of the virus that causes hepatitis B, which could pave the way for research that might help modern-day sufferers of the disease.

A more recent discovery—featured in the Daily Mail—is this lady, who is also believed to be about 500 years old:

She was found in Osan, in South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province, with her purse.

Bottom photograph: The Daily Mail
io9: This 5,300-year-old Iceman has close relatives living in the Mediterranean

Some news about Ötzi from io9.

I love this kind of stuff:

But the coolest results from this study are the ones linking the Iceman to his modern day descendants. Surprisingly, when Zink and his colleagues compared Ötzi’s genome with that of modern day European populations, they found he was most closely related not to people from Northern Italy (where he was discovered), but “present-day inhabitants of the Tyrrhenian Sea,” specifically men from the islands of Sardinia and Corsica.

These islands (labeled here in red) are separated from Ötzi’s final resting place (marked here with a red circle) by over three hundred miles and a sizable body of water. That’s pretty incredible, if you think about it. On one hand, it suggests that Ötzi’s descendents may have once inhabited a much larger portion of mainland Europe, only to die out — or become part of a much more diverse genetic pool — save for the inhabitants of these two, isolated islands. It also points to the evolutionarily isolating effects that islands can have on a population’s genetic makeup.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers some background on this Tarim Basin mummy:

Beautiful “Baby Blue,” an 8 month old boy, was lovingly placed in a red-purple blanket and wrapped securely with red and blue twisted cord. The baby’s eyes were covered with rectangular blue stones. His blue felt cashmere cap with a red felt lining encircled a tiny face that was covered with paint.  A few strands of brown hair with red highlights escaped from under his bonnet. “Baby Blue” lived during the 8th century BCE.

Quigley’s Cabinet also notes that his nose was plugged with red wool and that he was buried with a baby bottle made of sheep’s udder.
Image: Infant Mummy, ca 8th century BC by Penn Museum on Flickr.

Infant mummy, ca 8th century BCE. Excavated from Zaghunluq, Charchan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. © Wang Da-Gang.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers some background on this Tarim Basin mummy:

Beautiful “Baby Blue,” an 8 month old boy, was lovingly placed in a red-purple blanket and wrapped securely with red and blue twisted cord. The baby’s eyes were covered with rectangular blue stones. His blue felt cashmere cap with a red felt lining encircled a tiny face that was covered with paint.  A few strands of brown hair with red highlights escaped from under his bonnet. “Baby Blue” lived during the 8th century BCE.

Quigley’s Cabinet also notes that his nose was plugged with red wool and that he was buried with a baby bottle made of sheep’s udder.

Image: Infant Mummy, ca 8th century BC by Penn Museum on Flickr.

Infant mummy, ca 8th century BCE. Excavated from Zaghunluq, Charchan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. © Wang Da-Gang.

biomedicalephemera:

Exhumed cadaver. Buried 13 months. Wet, temperate climate. Very cool and rainy summer.
Trait des Exhumations Juridiques. M. Orfila and M. O. Lesueur, 1834.

biomedicalephemera:

Exhumed cadaver. Buried 13 months. Wet, temperate climate. Very cool and rainy summer.

Trait des Exhumations Juridiques. M. Orfila and M. O. Lesueur, 1834.

In pictures: Stirling Castle skeletons reveal warriors' violent demise
Healed cranial fracture by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male cranium aged over 46 years old with a fracture to the left zygomatic bone.

Healed cranial fracture by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male cranium aged over 46 years old with a fracture to the left zygomatic bone.

Treponematosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult female aged over 45 years at death with pitted lesions to the cranial bones suggestive of syphilis. This individual had also undergone autopsy as is shown by the cut mark from a craniotemy.

Treponematosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult female aged over 45 years at death with pitted lesions to the cranial bones suggestive of syphilis. This individual had also undergone autopsy as is shown by the cut mark from a craniotemy.

Pretty much the coolest thing I’ve seen all week.
Pipe notch by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male skeleton showing wear pattern to teeth resulting from long term pipe smoking

Pretty much the coolest thing I’ve seen all week.

Pipe notch by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Adult male skeleton showing wear pattern to teeth resulting from long term pipe smoking

This is the “Women’s Corridor” of the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily.
I’ve been meaning to post about this place for months. There are so many mummies in these catacombs, and pictures of them (and their finery) on the internet, that I must admit I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ll be posting more images and links in the coming days via my queue. 
In the meantime, here’s a little more background on the catacombs from Wikipedia:

Originally the catacombs were intended only for the dead friars. However, in the following centuries it became a status symbol to be entombed into the Capuchin catacombs. In their wills, local luminaries would ask to be preserved in certain clothes, or even to have their clothes changed at regular intervals. Priests wore their clerical vestments, others were clothed according to the contemporary fashion. Relatives would visit to pray for the deceased and also to maintain the body in presentable condition. The catacombs were maintained through the donations of the relatives of the deceased. Each new body was placed in a temporary niche and later placed into a more permanent place. As long as the contributions continued, the body remained in its proper place but when the relatives did not send money any more, the body was put aside on a shelf until they continued to pay.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

This is the “Women’s Corridor” of the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily.

I’ve been meaning to post about this place for months. There are so many mummies in these catacombs, and pictures of them (and their finery) on the internet, that I must admit I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ll be posting more images and links in the coming days via my queue. 

In the meantime, here’s a little more background on the catacombs from Wikipedia:

Originally the catacombs were intended only for the dead friars. However, in the following centuries it became a status symbol to be entombed into the Capuchin catacombs. In their wills, local luminaries would ask to be preserved in certain clothes, or even to have their clothes changed at regular intervals. Priests wore their clerical vestments, others were clothed according to the contemporary fashion. Relatives would visit to pray for the deceased and also to maintain the body in presentable condition. The catacombs were maintained through the donations of the relatives of the deceased. Each new body was placed in a temporary niche and later placed into a more permanent place. As long as the contributions continued, the body remained in its proper place but when the relatives did not send money any more, the body was put aside on a shelf until they continued to pay.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

Inscribed Skull by Ballyhooligan on Flickr.
P.S. I am really loving this guy’s Flickr.

Inscribed Skull by Ballyhooligan on Flickr.

P.S. I am really loving this guy’s Flickr.

Phossy Jaw by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Left mandible of 19th century male aged 26-35 years at death with bone changes suggesting possible phossy jaw.

"Phossy Jaw" (phosphorus necrosis of the jaw) was an occupational disease that afflicted 19th- and early-20th-century workers in match factories. It was caused by exposure to white phosphorous. From Wikipedia:

Those with phossy jaw would begin suffering painful toothaches and swelling of the gums. Over time, the jaw bone would begin to abscess. Affected bones would glow a greenish-white colour in the dark. It also caused serious brain damage. Surgical removal of the afflicted jaw bones could save the patient; otherwise, death from organ failure would follow. The disease was extremely painful and disfiguring to the patient, with dying bone tissue rotting away accompanied by a foul-smelling discharge.

The dangerous conditions that led to Phossy Jaw were among the reasons for the 1888 London matchgirls’ strike.

Phossy Jaw by museumoflondon on Flickr:

Left mandible of 19th century male aged 26-35 years at death with bone changes suggesting possible phossy jaw.

"Phossy Jaw" (phosphorus necrosis of the jaw) was an occupational disease that afflicted 19th- and early-20th-century workers in match factories. It was caused by exposure to white phosphorous. From Wikipedia:

Those with phossy jaw would begin suffering painful toothaches and swelling of the gums. Over time, the jaw bone would begin to abscess. Affected bones would glow a greenish-white colour in the dark. It also caused serious brain damage. Surgical removal of the afflicted jaw bones could save the patient; otherwise, death from organ failure would follow. The disease was extremely painful and disfiguring to the patient, with dying bone tissue rotting away accompanied by a foul-smelling discharge.

The dangerous conditions that led to Phossy Jaw were among the reasons for the 1888 London matchgirls’ strike.

Tuberculosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

The upper spine of an individual dated to the 19th century showing severe destruction and collapse (Pott’s disease) through tuberculosis infection.

Interesting post on the Museum of London’s site about an event that was held in April about Victorian bones and diseases:

The Victorian period was a time of great change.  In London, the expanding city saw massive population growth and the development of new industries that were to alter the shape of the city forever.
With this change came an increased pressure on resources, leading to poor sanitation, overcrowded living conditions, increased pollution, poor diet and working conditions. This was to have a significant affect upon human health and life expectancy, and such squalid conditions would have contributed to the rise of disease.
Epidemics of smallpox, typhoid and cholera spread through the city and infectious diseases such as venereal syphilis and tuberculosis were rife. Rickets, scurvy, dental disease and many other conditions afflicted the population. The London Bills of Mortality record that approximately 40% of deaths occurred in children aged five or below. In the early nineteenth century, almost half the population would not live past their twentieth birthday.

Tuberculosis by museumoflondon on Flickr:

The upper spine of an individual dated to the 19th century showing severe destruction and collapse (Pott’s disease) through tuberculosis infection.

Interesting post on the Museum of London’s site about an event that was held in April about Victorian bones and diseases:

The Victorian period was a time of great change.  In London, the expanding city saw massive population growth and the development of new industries that were to alter the shape of the city forever.

With this change came an increased pressure on resources, leading to poor sanitation, overcrowded living conditions, increased pollution, poor diet and working conditions. This was to have a significant affect upon human health and life expectancy, and such squalid conditions would have contributed to the rise of disease.

Epidemics of smallpox, typhoid and cholera spread through the city and infectious diseases such as venereal syphilis and tuberculosis were rife. Rickets, scurvy, dental disease and many other conditions afflicted the population. The London Bills of Mortality record that approximately 40% of deaths occurred in children aged five or below. In the early nineteenth century, almost half the population would not live past their twentieth birthday.

Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them.

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