Friday, January 23, 2009

Natural mummification

Under certain circumstances, human bodies that are abandoned indoors after death will mummify naturally. As long as the temperature is moderate and there is sufficient air circulation, preservation becomes a race between putrefaction and dehydration, and may result in partial or complete mummification of the corpse. Over the years, I've read dozens of accounts of deaths that have gone unreported (for instance, to keep Social Security checks coming) or unnoticed. This includes more than one "strange but true" story about the mummified body of an infant found in a suitcase in the attic. The birth may have been concealed or the baby may have been stillborn, and the dates on the newspaper it is wrapped in may offer clues to a former occupant of the house. Newborns mummify easily because their bodies contain few germs--and the attic is a cool, dry place. None of the newspaper reports I have read in the American media over the years have been accompanied by photographs of the body. But as you can see, the Russian and Croatian media are not so restrictive. Click on the photos to read about the mummified bodies of Vladimir Ledenev - found 6 years after death, a Russian woman named Praskovya - found 13 years after death, and a woman in Zagreb who was last seen 35 years before her body was discovered!

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