Monday, October 1, 2007
China's Diva Mummy
Say hello to Lady Dai. She may not be much of a looker anymore, but many scientists insist that she's one of the best-preserved "mummies" ever discovered. You see, though Lady Dai was already more than 2000 years old when she was unearthed in 1971, her skin remained moist and there was said to be blood still left in her veins.
Thirty-six years ago, a group of Chinese workers were digging an air raid shelter when they uncovered an enormous underground tomb. It turned out to be the final resting place of the Marquis of Dai, a Chinese nobleman, and his wife Xinzhui, who died in the year 168 B.C.
Archaeologists found Lady Dai's burial chamber filled with precious goods--fine fabrics, bizarre delicacies (such as caterpillar fungus), and opulent furniture--as well as painted figurines of the servants who would tend to her needs in the afterworld. Inside four interlocking coffins lay the remains of a middle-aged woman. Once a renowned beauty, a life of overindulgence had left her sickly and obese. An autopsy revealed that she had died of a heart attack at age fifty.
While she may be the most famous mummy discovered in China, Lady Dai is by no means the loveliest or most impressive.
That honor belongs to a young woman known only as the Traitor Empress.