5 Mummies With Strange Stories

Unexpected Companions, Golden Hives and more.

5 Mummies With Strange Stories

The Unexpected Companion

In 1679, the esteemed Bishop Peder Winstrup was laid to rest in Lund Cathedral, Sweden. His well-preserved body held a secret for centuries - a stillborn baby boy hidden behind his legs. It was a common practice to bury infants with adults during that time, but the connection between this particular bishop and the child remained a mystery. In 2021, DNA tests revealed a surprising truth - the baby was Winstrup's grandchild, which could explain their shared burial.

The Golden Hive

In 1875, a fire damaged the Catedral Basílica Santa María la Antigua. During the restoration, several bee nests were unknowingly sealed within the gold leaf repaired altarpiece. A century and a half later, these mummified nests were discovered, providing a unique opportunity to study the elusive Eufriesea surinamensis bees. The pollen they collected offered a snapshot of the ecosystem 150 years ago, including a tea mangrove that no longer grows near Panama City.

The Ancient Couch Potato

A mummy from ancient Egypt, nicknamed Alex, revealed that sedentary lifestyles aren't just a modern problem. Despite being a priest, a high-status role in ancient Egypt, Alex's diet was high in carbs, and he rarely ventured outdoors. This lifestyle led to severe health issues, including heart disease and osteoporosis, which reduced his height to 1.5 meters (5 feet). He died young, between 30 to 40 years old.

The Age-Old Mystery

Between the first and third centuries AD, Egyptians painted portraits of the deceased on their mummies. In 2020, a portrait mummy of a boy who died of pneumonia at 3 or 4 years old was chosen for facial reconstruction. The digital reconstruction matched the portrait, except the artist had depicted the boy as much older. The reason for this discrepancy remains unknown.

The Misidentified Mummy

In 2018, the Maidstone Museum in England decided to scan some of their animal mummies. One, believed to be a hawk due to its ornate casing, turned out to be a human baby. The boy had a severe condition called anencephaly, which likely resulted in his death at birth. Despite the traditional practice of burying children in pots, this boy was mummified and treated with care, breaking with tradition in a way that remains a mystery.