Saturday, June 19, 2010

Zombie Watch: German nobles created their own mummies.

From Der Spiegel:
When they died, Germany noble families of the 18th century did what the Egyptians had done before them: They had themselves mummified. As an increasing number of such well-preserved corpses are found, scientists are trying to find out why.

Baron von Holz had a difficult lot. During the Thirty Years' War, von Holz fought in the Swedish army as a mercenary, but he was not granted a hero's death on the battlefield. He was cut down, rather less heroically, at the age of 35 by either the flu or blood poisoning. And it was only in death, that his situation really improved.

His family dressed his mortal remains in precious calf-leather boots with nailed soles. The warrior was then laid out in a kind of luxury crypt under the castle of Sommersdorf near Ansbach, in modern-day Bavaria. In those vaults von Holz's corpse was privileged with an honor previously reserved primarily for Egyptian pharaohs: His body did not decompose.

More than 370 years after his untimely death, the nobleman still lies in his casket, well preserved. Von Holz was a giant of a man, standing 1.80 meters (around 5'10"), at a time when most humans were far shorter. To this day, his feet are still shod in those smart leather boots that his clan had made for him almost four centuries ago.

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