Saturday, 26 March 2011

Archaeologists find Ming Dynasty mummy in China

Road workers have stumbled upon a well-preserved, 700-year-old mummy while expanding a street in the Chinese city of Taizhou, in Jiangsu Province.

Experts say the body belongs to a high-ranking woman from the Ming Dynasty whose features have remained in excellent condition, Xinhua reported.
The mummy was found along with two wooden coffins buried two meters below the road surface, and the remarkable condition of her skin, hair, eyelashes and face amazed archeologists of the nearby Museum of Taizhou who visited the body after she was found.
The mummified woman is 1.5 meters tall wearing traditional Ming dynasty costume and a ring on her right hand.
Her coffin also contained relics such as bones, ceramics and ancient writings.
This is the latest discovery of well-preserved mummies in the area. Five similar findings were reported between 1979 and 2008.
According to Director of the Museum of Taizhou Wang Weiyin, the mummy's clothes are mostly made of silk, with a little cotton, two materials which are very hard to preserve.
Archeologists are trying to use the mummy to find out more about mummifying techniques during the Ming Dynasty which is known as an era of great economic growth and cultural splendor.
It was during the same period that the Forbidden City was built and the Great Wall of China was restored.

From National Geographic
With eyebrows, hair, and skin still intact after more than 600 years, a remarkably preserved Chinese "wet mummy" remains bundled in her quilt after centuries in a flooded coffin.
Removed from her wooden casket on March 1, the body had been found in a tomb accidentally uncovered by roadbuilders near the city of Taizhou.
"Wet mummies survive so well because of the anaerobic conditions of their burials," said archaeologist Victor Mair. That is, water unusually void of oxygen inhibits bacteria that would normally break down a body.
Unlike ancient Egyptian mummies, the corpse—likely from the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644)—was probably preserved only accidentally, said Mair, of the University of Pennsylvania.
"I don't know of any evidence that Chinese ever intentionally mummified their deceased," he said. "Whoever happened to encounter the right environment might become a preserved corpse."

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