When the word “mummy” comes to mind, we often envision a withered and barely recognizable body. However, the mummified corpse of the Lady of Dai, also known as Xin Zhui, defies this expectation as it remains astonishingly well-preserved after over 2,000 years.
Lady Dai, who passed away between 178 and 145 BC, was accidentally discovered in 1971. Pathologists were astounded by her remarkable condition upon examination. Alongside the luxurious items buried with her, it became evident that she held great wealth and status during her lifetime.
The Lady of Dai’s preservation is attributed, in part, to her wealth. Her body was found enveloped in 18 layers of silk and linen garments. Additionally, her coffin contained a peculiar clear fluid that turned brown when exposed to oxygen. While some speculate it to be bodily fluids, others believe it was a traditional herbal solution employed for body preservation.
Notably, the mummy’s organs were intact, including the delicate nerves of her lungs. Her skin remained moist, her eyelashes attached, and blood still flowed through her veins. During the examination, experts discovered over 100 undigested melon seeds in her esophagus, stomach, and intestines, indicating that she had consumed melon shortly before her demise.
Despite her opulence, investigations revealed that the Lady of Dai had been in poor health prior to her passing. It was determined that she suffered a heart attack shortly after eating the melon, with blood clots still present in her veins as evidence. She was believed to be around 50 years old at the time of her death, which was considered a decent lifespan for that era.
The mummy displayed signs of various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallstones, and liver disease. Scientists concluded that Lady Dai lived an indulgent lifestyle, supported by her lavishly furnished tomb and the presence of numerous servants attending to her needs.
Today, the well-preserved mummy of Lady Dai can be admired at the Hunan Provincial Museum, captivating visitors with her remarkable state even after thousands of years.