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MUMMY’S RAPID DECOMPOSITION BAFFLES: ‘PERFECTLY PRESERVED’ CHINESE MUMMY TURNED BLACK JUST HOURS ITS COFFIN WAS OPENED BAFFLED ARCHAEOLOGISTS

Baffled Chinese archaeologists

The Chinese mummy that aged 300 years in a day: Experts baffled by  ‘perfectly preserved’ body that turned BLACK just hours after its coffin was  opened

  • Found in  same area as two other bodies that were reduced to skeletons
  • Within  hours, however, the corpse’s face started to turn black and a foul smell began  to emanate from its body
  • The mummy’s  clothing indicates he may have been a very senior official from the early Qing  Dynasty

By  Ellie Zolfagharifard Daily Mail PUBLISHED: October 2013

A 300-year-old burial area, in which two  bodies were reduced to skeletons while one was perfectly preserved, has left  Chinese archaeologists baffled.

When one of the coffins was opened, the man’s  face, experts claim, was perfectly preserved.

Within hours, however, the face started to go  black, and a foul smell began to emanate from the body.

300 year-old coffinBaffled Chinese archaeologists are studying a 300  year-old coffin found with two others in which two of the bodies had been  reduced to skeletons, but in which the third was almost perfectly  preserved

 

THE EARLY QING  DYNASTY

Clothes on the body of the 300-year-old  Chinese corpse indicate he was a very senior official from the early Qing  Dynasty.

The Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644  to  1912, followed the Ming dynasty and was the last imperial dynasty of  China  before the creation of the Republic of China.

Under the Qing territory, the empire grew to  three times its size. The  population increased from around 150 million to 450  million.

The present-day boundaries of China are  largely based on the territory controlled by the Qing  dynasty

The skin on the corpse – which has now been  taken to the local university for study – also turned black.

The body is thought to be from the Qing  Dynasty.

It was unearthed on October 10 on a  construction site in a two metre-deep hole in the ground at  Xiangcheng in Henan province, central China.

Dr Lukas Nickel, a specialist in Chinese art  and archaeology at SOAS, University of London, told MailOnline that  preservations such as these were not intentional.

‘The Chinese did not do any treatment of the  body to preserve it as known from ancient Egypt, for instance.

‘They did, however, try to protect the body  by putting it into massive coffins and stable tomb chambers.

‘So the integrity of the physical structure  of the body was important to them. In early China, at least, one expected the  dead person to live on in the tomb.’

Occasionally bodies in the Qing Dynasty were  preserved by the natural conditions around the coffin.

In this case, the body may have had a  lacquered coffin, covered in charcoal – which was common at the time. This means  bacteria would have been unable to get in.

Dr Nickel added that if this was the case, as  soon as air hit the body, the natural process would be for it to turn black and  quickly disintegrate.

When the coffin was opened by historians at Xiangcheng  said the man’s face was almost normal but within hours it had started to go  black, and a foul smell had appeared

 

Xiangcheng China LocatorThe body was unearthed on October 10 on a construction  site in a two-metre-deep hole in the ground at Xiangcheng in Henan province,  central China

 

Historian Dong Hsiung said: ‘The clothes on  the body indicate he was a very senior official from the early Qing Dynasty.

‘What is amazing is the way time seems to be  catching up on the corpse, ageing hundreds of years in a day.’

The Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to  1912, followed the Ming dynasty and was the last imperial dynasty of China  before the creation of the Republic of China.

Under the Qing territory, the empire grew to  three times its size and the population increased from around 150 million to 450  million.

The present-day boundaries of China are  largely based on the territory controlled by the Qing dynasty

Burial rituals in the Qing Dynasty were the  responsiblity of the eldest son, and would have included a large number of  officials.

Professor Dong proposes an alternative theory  for the preservation. ‘It’s possible the man’s family used some materials to  preserve the body,’ he said. ‘Once it was opened the natural process of decay  could really start.’

‘We are working hard though to save what  there is.’

 

In addition the skin on the corpse that has now been taken to the local university for study and preservation work had turned blackHistorian Dong Hsiung said: ‘The clothes on the body  indicate he was a very senior official from the early Qing Dynasty. What is  amazing is the way time seems to be catching up on the corpse, ageing hundreds  of years in a day’

 

 

Amazing discovery: The 700-year-old mummy was found in the city of Taizhou, in Jiangsu Province, by construction workers - and her eyebrows were still intactThe 700-year-old mummy was found in the city of Taizhou,  in Jiangsu Province in 2011

The Qing Dynasty, and the preceding Ming  Dynasty, are known for their well-preserved corpses.

In 2011, a 700-year-old mummy was discovered  by chance in excellent condition in eastern China.

The corpse of the high-ranking woman believed  to be from the Ming Dynasty was stumbled across by a team who were looking to  expand a street.

Discovered two metres below the road surface,  the woman’s features – from her head to her shoes – retained their original  condition, and had hardly deteriorated.

The mummy was wearing traditional Ming  dynasty costume, and in the coffin were bones, ceramics, ancient writings and  other relics.

Director of the Museum of Taizhou, Wang  Weiyin, said that the mummy’s clothes were made mostly of silk, with a little  cotton.

Researchers hope the latest finding could  help them better understand the Qing dynasty’s funeral rituals and customs, as  well as more about how bodies were preserved.

Oh mother! The woman, wearing Ming Dynasty dress, is thought to have been at a high-ranking levelThe mummy, found in 2011, was wearing traditional Ming  dynasty costume, and in the coffin were bones, ceramics, ancient writings and  other relics

 

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