Scientists have been working on solving the mystery of a Hungarian mummy for over two decades. The woman who died aged 72 was found along with other mummies in Vác. However, there is something unique about her body.
Several mummies were found in a long-forgotten crypt of a church in 1994. Each body has its own story, but the body that belonged to Terézia Waitzenbach is especially interesting. Ildikó Pap, an anthropologist and one of the curators of the Mummies of the World exhibition, explained what they had found.
“An about 15-centimetre long cut can be seen on the woman’s chest, and it was cut after her death. For some reason, the woman’s heart was removed, and her chest was filled with wood chips instead. We were trying to figure out the reasons behind it.”
At the time, not really dying but still getting buried seems to have been a genuine fear. Some people were so terrified of waking up in a coffin underground that they even decided to include in their will that they wanted their heart pierced or taken out, ensuring they really were dead before the burial.
“One possible explanation could be the fear from suspended animation. At the time, at the end of the 18th century – beginning of the 19th century, medical science was just beginning, and getting buried alive was a justified fear.” – explains the expert.
However, in the case of Terézia’s body, experts say there might be something else in the background. At the time, bodies could not be cooled and stored, so people simply buried their dead and took the heart in a sealed urn back to the person’s homeland.
“Burials of urns with hearts was primarily a custom of wealthier families.”
The 300-year-old mummy is exhibited in the show that currently has the biggest such collection in the world. Those interested can follow 4500 years of history through bodies from South America to Germany, from Egypt to Hungary. Visitors can see for themselves the mystery of this woman, and the internationally unique exhibition until January 20th.
For more news, check out this article about Hungarian conspiracy theories.
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