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15 Mummies You Can See Around the World

Many regular travelers seek out their favorite series of landmarks to visit—every national park, every art museum, or every state. For the more macabre among you, here’s a guide to 15 most interesting mummies you can see around the world.

1. LADY DAI (XIN ZHUI)—HUNAN PROVINCIAL MUSEUM, CHANGSHA, CHINA

Huangdan2060, Wikimedia Commons


 
Lady Dai was the wife of a marquis in the Han Dynasty. When she died in the middle of the 2nd century BCE, she was overweight, with a bad back and gallstones. Her tomb was airtight and sealed with clay and charcoal, which may be responsible for her remarkable preservation. She was also surrounded by a reddish liquid that may have played a role as well.

2. VLADIMIR LENIN—RED SQUARE, MOSCOW, RUSSIA

Dating to 1991, this photo was the first image of Lenin's body taken in 30 years. Image credit: AFP/Getty Images

 
After the infamous communist leader died in 1924, his body was embalmed and put on display in a mausoleum in Red Square. He is re-embalmed every other year in a special solution, and care is taken to deal with mold, wrinkles, and even lost eyelashes. Annual cost of maintenance runs to about $200,000.

3. TOLLUND MAN—SILKEBORG MUSEUM, DENMARK

Discovered in a bog in Denmark in 1950, Tollund Man had been hanged. His last meal was a porridge of flax and barley. Image credit: RV1864 via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 
Tollund Man died in the 4th century BCE and was preserved naturally by peat, making him one of the most famous of all the bog bodies. While his face looks like that of a sleeping man, there was a noose around his neck, suggesting a far more sinister end by hanging. Bog bodies tend to be so well preserved that they are often mistaken for recent murder victims. Other bog bodies are on display throughout Europe.

4. GEBELEIN MAN—BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON, ENGLAND


 
Six naturally mummified bodies from 4th millennium BCE Egypt are in the collection of the British Museum. All are from the same grave, and they are the earliest natural mummies known from Egypt, predating the Great Pyramid by about a thousand years. The most famous of these, nicknamed “Ginger” for his red hair, has been on display almost continuously since 1901. He was 18 to 20 years old when he died of a stab wound to his left shoulder, which pierced his lung.

5. ÖTZI—SOUTH TYROL MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY, BOLZANO, ITALY

Getty Images

 
The most well-researched mummy in the world, Ötzi died around 3300 BCE high in the Ötztal Alps. About 45 at his death, the Iceman was killed by sharp trauma to his shoulder (and possibly a blow to the head), and his body was naturally preserved by the cold and ice. He has some of the oldest preserved tattoos in the world, and he carried a variety of weapons and tools, including a proto first aid kit.

6. LA DONCELLA—MUSEUM OF HIGH ALTITUDE ARCHAEOLOGY, SALTA, ARGENTINA

grooverpedro, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0


 
“The Maiden” is one of the Children of Llullaillaco, three Inca kids who died on the volcano five centuries ago. La Doncella was around 15 when she died in her sleep after being drugged by coca leaves and chicha beer. She may have been an aclla or “sun virgin,” chosen as a child to eventually become a sacrifice to the gods. The cold, dry environment preserved La Doncella perfectly, making her look as if she just recently fell asleep.

7. ITIGILOV—IVOKGINSKY DATSAN, BURYATIA

Wikimedia Commons // Fair Use

 
Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was a Buddhist lama, or teacher, who died in 1927 while meditating in the lotus position. Itigilov had left instructions to be buried as he died, interred in a pine box, and exhumed several years later. Monks checked on his body over the years, but in 2002, he was officially exhumed and transferred to the Buddhist temple of Ivolginsky Datsan. It is unclear how the body was preserved for so long, but it is thought that monks applied salt to it over the years to dehydrate it.

8. EVEREST CLIMBERS—"RAINBOW VALLEY," MT. EVEREST, NEPAL/CHINA

 
The first recorded deaths on the tallest mountain in the world date back nearly a century. An estimated 200 or more bodies dot Everest today, many in the area nicknamed "Rainbow Valley," just before the summit on the northeast ridge. It’s the multicolored hiking gear of people who perished in their ascent that gives the valley its macabre name. Recovery of the bodies is difficult due to the terrain and can cost upwards of $30,000. Most bodies therefore stay and become landmarks on Everest, making it the highest “graveyard” in the world.

9. CAPUCHIN MUMMIES—PALERMO, SICILY, ITALY

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

 
The Catacombe dei Cappuccini are burial chambers that were in use from 1599 to the 1920s. Originally intended only for monks, the catacombs quickly filled with status-seeking locals. Bodies were dehydrated on ceramic pipes and then washed with vinegar. By the latest census, there are 1,252 mummies in these catacombs, and close to 7,000 additional skeletons. Some of the mummies are posed, some are wearing clothing, while others are partially covered with a simple sheet. The most famous resident is little Rosalia Lombardo, who died at age 2 in 1920 and whose body is remarkably well preserved, thanks to a special Sicilian embalming technique.

10. SALT MAN 1—NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRAN, TEHRAN, IRAN

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

 
Since 1993, remains of at least six men have been found in the Chehrabad salt mines in Zanjan, Iran. The corpses, likely people who were killed by mine collapses, are between 1,700 and 2,200 years old, dating to the Parthian and Sassanid Empires. The bodies were likely naturally desiccated by the salt. While Salt Man 1 is on display at the National Museum, four additional mummies can be seen at the Zanjan Archaeology Museum, and the sixth and most recently discovered mummy was left in place in the mine.

11. MUMMY OF SAN ANDRES—MUSEUM OF NATURE AND MAN, TENERIFE, SPAIN

 
Prior to Spanish settlement of the Canary Islands, the indigenous Guanche people intentionally eviscerated and desiccated the bodies of members of the social elite. Hundreds of mummies filled numerous caves on the islands, at least until the Spanish settled the area in the 15th century. Most of the mummies are assumed to have been sold, traded, and made into mummia, a powdered “medicine” that was used until the early 20th century. The mummy of San Andrés was a man in his late 20s and is exhibited in the Canary Islands, while some Guanche mummies can be found in Madrid at the National Archaeological Museum.

12. SIBERIAN ICE MAIDEN—REPUBLICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM, GORNO-ALTAYSK, ALTAI, RUSSIA

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

 
Deep below the ground in the Russian steppes, a burial chamber was uncovered in 1993. Within a log cabin-style coffin, surrounded by grave goods and horses, was a woman in her 20s who died in the 5th century BCE. The Ice Maiden’s impressive clothing—including a tall, gilded headdress—and intricate tattoos mark her as someone of high status, perhaps a priestess, in the ancient culture. A recent MRI revealed that she probably died of breast cancer.

13. MUMMIES OF GUANAJUATO—EL MUSEO DE LAS MOMIAS, GUANAJUATO, MEXICO

 
For about a hundred years starting in the 19th century, a local tax in Guanajuato was levied on burials. If the family couldn’t pay the tax three years in a row, the corpse would be dug up. The climate of the area naturally mummified many of the bodies, and the unclaimed ones were stored in a nearby building. Pretty quickly, graveyard caretakers started charging for admission to see the mummies, which range in age from infants to the elderly. Today, the collection holds 111 mummies.

14. HATSHEPSHUT AND RAMESS II—MUSEUM OF EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES, CAIRO, EGYPT

 
Some of the most famous mummies in the world reside in Egypt, having been excavated from the Valley of the Kings. Hatshepsut was the second incontrovertibly female pharaoh, dying in 1458 BCE in her 50s from bone cancer, possibly as a result of carcinogenic skin lotion, according to recent forensic analysis. She also suffered from diabetes, arthritis, and bad teeth. A later pharaoh, Ramesses II, died around age 90 in 1213 BCE. Because of his campaigns and numerous monuments, he is one of the most well-known Egyptian pharaohs. Thanks to numerous battles, Ramesses’ body showed evidence of healed injuries and arthritis; his arteries were hardened; and he had a massive dental infection that might very well have killed him. These and many other ancient Egyptian ruler mummies are on display at the Cairo Museum, along with their gold grave masks and sarcophagi.

15. DAIJUKU BOSATSU SHINNYOKAI-SHONIN—RYUSUI-JI DAINICHIBO TEMPLE, TSURUOKA CITY, JAPAN

Screencap from Sokushinbutsu via YouTube


 
Sokushinbutsu is self-mummification that was practiced by Buddhist monks in the Yamagata prefecture in the 11th–19th centuries. This involved eating primarily pine needles, seeds, and resins to lose fat stores, and over the course of several years reducing intake of liquids to dehydrate the body. Monks would die while meditating, having naturally mummified themselves. Although hundreds of monks reportedly tried this over the centuries, only about two dozen are known to have succeeded. Perhaps the most famous monk who achieved sokushinbutsu is Daijuku Bosatsu Shinnyokai-Shonin, who died in 1783 and whose body is on display in a Buddhist temple.

Original image
By Evan-amos - Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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Design
A Cut Above the Rest: How Finland's Orange-Handled Scissors Inspired a Design Revolution
Original image
By Evan-amos - Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Finland is home to brands like Marimekko and Artek, and has produced architects and designers like Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen. But you don’t need to go shopping or visit Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, to fully appreciate the nation’s design legacy. All you likely have to do is open a kitchen drawer, office closet, or garage toolbox and pull out a pair of orange, plastic-handled scissors.

Even if you don’t immediately recognize the maker—Fiskars Corporation, the Finnish consumer goods company—you’ve likely used these lightweight shears at least once while sewing, gardening, or wrapping presents. More than 1 billion pairs have been sold since they first hit the market in 1967, and in Finland, the word “Fiskars” is even synonymous with scissors. Their ubiquity, though, isn’t without reason: As the world’s first plastic-handled scissors, they’re considered a game-changer in the field of industrial design.

Scissors are likely thousands of years old, and were used by everyone from the ancient Egyptians to members of China’s Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 CE). Fiskars itself—which was founded in 1649, in Fiskars Village, Finland—has manufactured the tools for centuries. The brand was once known for forging quality metal scissors that were used in tailoring clothes and upholstering furniture. But these tools were “quite, quite heavy,” and cumbersome to use, Jay Gillespie, the company’s vice president of marketing, tells Mental Floss.

Olof Bäckström, the Finnish industrial designer who created Fiskar's famous orange-handled scissors.
Olof Bäckström, the Finnish industrial designer who created Fiskars's famous orange-handled scissors.
Courtesy of Fiskars

This changed in the 1960s, as plastic was just starting to become a popular material. Fiskars began using the light, strong compound to make tabletops and dishes, but one of the company's industrial designers, Olof Bäckström, sensed an opportunity to completely reinvent one of the company’s signature goods. Using plastic, he created a lighter scissor handle that was curved to fit the hand, thus making them easier to hold. Ultimately, this tweak also helped make the scissors easier to manufacture, helping them become affordable to the masses.

With a single prototype, “we completely redefined a product,” Gillespie says. “Today it’s very hard to find scissors that don’t have plastic handles.”

Bäckström didn’t technically invent the concept of ergonomically designed scissors, as Fiskars had been casting similar designs in metal for years, Gillespie says. However, the designer “probably took it to the next level,” he concludes, as he “solved the problem of weight and fit.”

Fiskars scissors over the ages
Fiskars scissors over the ages
Courtesy of Fiskars

Bäckström originally wanted his scissors to be black. But at the time, Fiskars was making orange juicers from—you guessed it—orange plastic. The first prototype for plastic-handled scissors was created with plastic from a juicer that was left in a machine. Fiskars employees ended up liking this original look so much that they ultimately voted to stick with it.

Prototypes of Fiskars scissors in black and orange
Prototypes of Fiskars scissors in black and orange
Courtesy of Fiskars

Save for a few minor tweaks, like a more durable plastic handle and an improved angle, the scissors’s original design has remained largely unchanged since Bäckström’s initial stroke of genius. They eventually became so iconic that competitors began copying their look, forcing the Finnish company to trademark their signature “Fiskars Orange.” Today, Fiskars is the only brand in the world that’s allowed to manufacture orange-handled scissors in the U.S., Canada, and Finland, according to Gillespie.

For all these reasons—and to mark the product's 50th birthday in 2017—the Design Museum Helsinki has created an ongoing exhibition that celebrates the utilitarian household staple. The “Our Scissors” exhibition, which ends on October 29, features works by artists and designers who use (or simply appreciate) orange-handled scissors. They include contributions from fashion designer Tracy Reese, Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney, and other creative influencers, all of whom sing the praises of a tiny Finnish tool that ended up taking the world by storm.

"Our Scissors Exhibit," a special art collection inspired by the orange-handled scissors created by Fiskars, on display at the Helsinki Design Museum.
Courtesy of Fiskars
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25 Things You Should Know About Jacksonville, Florida
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Benedek/iStock

Nicknamed the First Coast by some and Jax by others, Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city—and, at 875 square miles, the largest city by area in the continental United States. With its entrepreneurial spirit, this sunny, historical community in northeastern Florida has left a sizable mark on multiple industries, from fast food to the motion picture business. It’s also the home of a giant owl, a misleadingly named tree, and the world’s foremost dinosaur poop collector.

1) Friendship Fountain on the Southbank Riverwalk is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. The massive self-contained fountain can blast 3500 to 6500 gallons of water 100 feet in the air every minute, while 265 multicolored lights turn the mist into a rainbow-hued spectacle. Completed in 1965, the magnificent water feature is considered one of the largest on earth.

2) Civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph grew up in Jacksonville. Randolph created the first African-American labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925. He also pushed President Franklin D. Roosevelt to end discrimination in hiring practices on the basis of race, color, creed, or national origin in the federal government and defense industries. Randolph was among the key organizers of the March on Washington in 1963, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic “I have a dream” speech.

3) Merian C. Cooper, a screenwriter, film producer, and director best known for creating King Kong, was born here on October 23, 1893.

4) The southernmost battle of the Revolutionary War took place within Jacksonville’s current boundary. Forces from British-held Florida surprised a group of about 100 American troops on May 17, 1777, killing or capturing 47. Another 24 American militiamen were killed by Creek Indians allied with the British. The fight known today as the Battle of Thomas Creek took place three miles north of where the Jacksonville International Airport now stands.

5) The Jacksonville farmers market, founded in 1938, is Florida’s oldest. More than 20,000 people visit the daily market each week.

6) It probably won’t surprise you to learn that this city was named in honor of our seventh U.S. president—before he assumed that office. Jacksonville started out as an intersection between the St. Johns River and a British road that extended from St. Augustine to Georgia. Known originally as Cow Ford, the crossing was renamed Jacksonville in 1822, after General Andrew Jackson had served as Florida's military commissioner the previous year.

7) During World War II, the now-defunct Jax Brewing Company might have invented the six-pack. Because it couldn't afford to keep selling beer in expensive aluminum cans (steel had been requisitioned for the war effort), it began bottling its brews in glass longnecks and selling them in sacks of six.

8) Perched outside the main branch of the Jacksonville Public Library is a 25-foot-tall bronze owl. It was cast by sculptor Larry Kirkland as an homage to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and reason, whose symbol is an owl.

9) The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour has been headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, a suburb of Jacksonville, since 1979. Every May, the Players Championship tournament takes place at TPC at Sawgrass, a nearby golf course.

10) On May 3, 1901, the third-largest urban fire in U.S. history struck Jacksonville. At 12:30 a.m., some chimney embers were blown onto flammable stuffing material at a local mattress factory, igniting an inferno that raged on for eight hours and destroyed 2368 buildings. After the smoke finally cleared, nearly 10,000 people were homeless.

11) In 1953, a restaurant called Insta-Burger opened at 7146 Beach Boulevard. Inside, a special oven called the Insta-Broiler could cook 400 patties an hour. Despite its supercharged output, business dwindled until new owners brought the restaurant and renamed it Burger King.

12) Jacksonville covers an incredible amount of real estate. How did this place get to be so expansive? In 1967, voters decided to consolidate Jacksonville with the rest of its surrounding county to increase its tax base. The resulting footprint was 20 times larger than the city's original size.

13) According to a report published by the U.S. Census Bureau in May 2016, Jacksonville is the 12th fastest-growing city in America.

14) The longest-serving mayor in Jacksonville’s history was one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Democrat John T. Alsop Jr. held the city’s highest office from 1923 to 1937 and from 1941 to 1945.

15) The Jacksonville Jaguars joined the National Football League as an expansion team in the 1995 season. Since then, the team has won only five postseason games, but hope springs eternal. Their home stadium, EverBank Field, is located on the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville.

16) Completed in 1953, the distinctive Mathews Bridge was originally painted silver. Then, in 1983, it was repainted maroon to match the primary jersey color of the Jacksonville Bulls, a United States Football League club. The Bulls folded in 1985, but the bridge is still maroon.

17) Every Thanksgiving weekend, thousands of people watch the festive Jacksonville Light Boat Parade. For this holiday spectacle, a procession of boats covered in Christmas lights makes its way through the downtown area on the St. Johns River. A huge display of fireworks follows the parade.

18) New York City was the nexus of the film industry in the early 20th century, but snowy winters forced some movie studios to open outposts in Florida so they could keep shooting year-round. From 1908 to 1918, more than 30 film studios popped up in Jacksonville, earning it the nickname “The World’s Winter Film Capital.” Most had closed or relocated to California by 1920, but Jacksonville remained a popular filming location. Scenes from Cool Hand Luke (1967) and G.I. Jane (1997) were shot here.

19) You could go to EverBank Field and watch the NFL Jaguars play, or you could check out some real ones at the Jacksonville Zoo & Botanical Gardens. The most famous among the zoo's collection was a black male named Zorro. Brought to the zoo in 1967, he fathered 12 cubs, and almost all of the captive black jaguars in North America are Zorro's descendants.

20) Engraved onto the Veterans Memorial Wall in downtown Jacksonville are the names of more than 1500 veterans from all six service branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine) who lost their lives in the line of duty. Sixty-five feet long, the wall commemorates veterans from every American war since WWI.

21) In 1986, Floridians Will Fadeley Jr. and Eugene Hajtovik traveled all the way from Jacksonville to New York City on an airboat. Their 13-day, 1100-mile trip is the longest recorded voyage to be completed by such a vessel. The duo arrived in New York harbor on July 3, just in time to attend the Statue of Liberty’s centennial celebration.

22) In 1979, Dr. Frances Barnett Kinne became the first woman to serve as president of a Floridian university. She led Jacksonville University as president for 10 years and then served as its chancellor from 1989 to 1994. In 2017, she celebrated her 100th birthday.

23) Credited with pioneering the southern rock genre, the Allman Brothers Band was formed in this city in 1969. The hugely influential group put on its first live performance at the Jacksonville Armory on March 30 of that year.

24) Bad journalism rescued Jacksonville’s favorite tree, a sprawling live oak in Jessie Ball DuPont Park. Roughly 250 years old, it stands more than 60 feet tall with a trunk measuring 25 feet in circumference. In the 1930s, when developers hinted at chopping it down, local reporter Pat Moran fabricated a story about an important peace treaty between Native Americans and European settlers being signed under its branches. The story had the desired effect, and the tree, now (erroneously) called the Treaty Oak, was spared.

25) Jacksonville resident George Frandsen owns the world’s largest collection of fossilized poop. A committed coprolite enthusiast, Frandsen spent 18 years gathering 1,277 prehistoric stool samples from 15 states and eight countries. Information about the collection appears on his online museum, the Poozeum.

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