Throughout modern day discoveries, we get a small glimpse of the items, tools, architecture, and even a mummy or two, of civilizations past. Though we scratch the surface of what times were like back in the day, it’s rare that we find that holy grail fossil of “Dino DNA” trapped in the proverbial amber-encased mosquito. Archaeologists spend all day, months, even years looking for that one big find. Not all dig sites require a whip-cracking treasure hunter, or even a scantily-clad tomb raider. But sometimes, yes sometimes, playing with dirt yields some interesting discoveries. Things that shouldn’t be of this world, the proper era, or an uncharted mineral. Other times, it’s something that’ll make your skin crawl.
In 1971, workers discovered the body of Xin Zhui, a Chinese noblewoman who died over 2,000 years ago (approx. 163 BCE, BCE is hippie/atheist term called “Before Common Era” which also equals “Before Christ” -mansplaining Jeff). Called “Lady Dai”, or “Marquise of Dai”, Xin was the wife of Li Cang, the “Marquis of Dai”, during the Western Han dynasty. Her fruit roll up body was discovered by workers digging out an area for an air raid shelter for a hospital near Changsha, and unearthed the tomb of Xin Zhui, as well as the tombs of her husband and a young man who is believed commonly to be her son.
To everyone’s surprise, this 2000-year-old gooey Twinkie, still had the skin, flesh, organs, and sunny disposition of a corpse so fresh, Jeffrey Dhamer, asked “What you tryna do?”. The discovery was considered an amazing find to the medical community, and historians alike. Her skin was soft and moist, with muscles that still allowed for her arms and legs to flex at the joints. All her organs and blood vessels were also intact, with small amounts of Type A blood. In fact, she’s so well-preserved that doctors were able to perform an autopsy in 1972, hoping she wasn’t another Ted Bundy victim. A total of 138 melon seeds were found in her stomach, intestines and esophagus. It’s speculated that she died in summer months, when fruits and melons ripen. The presence of food in her stomach also indicates that she died within two to three hours after eating the melon. Though, her cause of death was found to be a heart attack, brought about by years of poor health.
Experts still aren’t sure, but they believe the whole reason her corpse managed to stay like a wrapped Slim Jim for this long, is that it was buried so thoroughly that every method of decomposition basically went “lol, respawning.” Her tomb was located twelve meters underground, while her casket was placed Matryoshka-style inside seven other intricately designed caskets and yet another burial vault. As for the body, it was wrapped in 20 layers in silk and suspended in a magnesium-infused acid bath. As a result, any corpse-eating bacteria would have suffocated through lack of oxygen, and just rage quit.
Whether you’re a fan of beef jerky or not, Xin Zhui is one of the most important and crucial archaeological discoveries of the past century, as evidenced by the fact that she’s still being studied to learn about ancient methods of corpse preservation. It’d go a lot faster if she didn’t keep rising at night and try to absorb the scientists’ life force a la Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, though.