Uncovered the riddles surrounding the 200-year-old mummy on exhibit in St. Nicholas’s church

The resting place of 18th century German mummies.

ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH IN THE small German town of Nedlitz seems like an ordinary place of worship, but inside are seven mummies preserved not with embalming techniques, but with a breeze and a bone-dry crypt.

St. Nicholas Church

In April of 2013, the church put two of its best-preserved mummies, those of Johanna Juliane Pforte and Robert Christian von Hake, both over 200 years old, on display in the church for all to see. They stand as modern symbols of the region’s history, as well as a study in the region’s 18th-century burial culture.

WITH THEIR DEAD EYES AND their rotting clothes, these corpses seem like they’re straight out of a zombie movie, but the macabre figures are actually mummies, preserved for over 200 years. And now you can stare into their sunken faces yourself.

18th century mummy

These 200-year-old mummies aren’t a product of complex embalming methods, just a dry crypt and a cool breeze. Under these conditions, seven corpses which should have decomposed were instead found as seven natural mummies underneath the St. Nicholas Church in Neditz, Germany.

Natural or not, preserving a mummy doesn’t come cheap. According to The Local, the preservation project was funded by 45,000 euros in church donations. Restorer Jens Klocke and a team of experts have been faithfully keeping the mummies in pristine condition since 2010. They are also studying the crypt’s unusually dry conditions that make it ideal for natural mummification. According to Klocke, the crypt at St. Nicholas Church rivals the famous dryness of the Tomb of the Emperors in the Palermo cathedral in Italy, which houses a variety of naturally preserved mummies.

While some critics may say that the display is inappropriate, the preserved remains of Pforte and von Hake serve as a surviving (relative term) example of burial practices that were common in the country over 200 years ago.

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