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#16 Kenneth

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 07:39 PM

Kelvin, you miss my point.
While the post prompting article has a bad pun about 'Chinese perservation leaves eygptians for dead' this is a shameful half truth.
Yes, she is preserved. No fooling...but was there a real active technique? No.
The Han burial practices do not support that inthe slightest.
I still havent got round to posting those pics of the food on plates and baskets, as I am working on several other threads...but think about it. The fruit and the cuts of meat didnt drink her magic Chinese medicine (which includes some of the more mundane ingredients I listed above).
The preservation is entirely due to the local conditions of her tomb and those that buried her were unaware she would be preserved differently to the son and husband beside her (who rotted normally).
The contents of the tomb, the silk and laquerware were preserved too. They weren't mummified in any preservation technique either.
Thanks for the tidbits of info, and the argument over semantics....but it is clear she is a preserved corpse and yet shouldnt be inadequetely compared to Eygptian techniques at all (nor should the Eygptians be belittled).
She is more comparible to bodies recovered from European peat swamps who were left as sacrifice, and the propertys of the peat swamp preserved them accidently. No, they arent called mummies either in literature. Some of them are also older (many centuries BC) than this lady.
You attempt to split hairs over dictionary definitions is unnessecary however, as there are natural mummies and prepared mummies. That is clear and undeniable. Both the Xianjiang, or for instance the Peruvian mummies you refer to, fit the later criteria as the people were aware of this process and exploited it.
Yes, mummies can be accidental too, freeze dried or dehydrated, but my objection is ONLY to the confused articles reasoning behind claiming the Han developed superior preservation techniques.
For the most part the Han era idea of preserving the body was thought be be by using jade, but the main fixation was on providing tomb objects (servants & luxuries) for the deceased to enjoy in the afterlife. The afterlife was viewed as a mirror image of the material world, and so the rich wanted to 'take it with them'. Thsi is what makes tombs from the period a tremendous record of the material culture (particularily due to ceramic images taken from life, houses, farms, animals, warriors, servants, musicians etc.) These objects were also placed inLady Dais tomb...they were wooden, and survived due to the unusual tomb atmposhere.
Here are some plain facts for you;
.....shortly after the date at which Lady Dai was buried the Han Chinese switched from these 'shaft' burials to a more complex 'chamber' burial, so her own method of tomb was shortly discontinued. Such a find is very very rare understandably, even from the over one thousand years of shaft burials preceding it.
There wasnt any successful way to preserve bodies during Han, although erroneously Jade was thought to prevent body corruption and also trap the 'breath of life' that may have still remained in the corpse. Even since West ZHou there were funerary masks of jade (of which images from Han jades are easiest to find), and during Han there were burial pigs/crouching pigs of jade, as well as body apperture plugs and jade cicadas etc.
All of these were funerary items, and ineffective due to flawed Daoist logic.
i.e Both the pills given to QIn SHi Huang, and testing of those 'immortality pills' recovered from the King of Nanyues tomb (who had rotted to dust when opened) shows the ingredients had the opposite effect and may well have caused their deaths
The height of this erroneous jade=incorruptability logic resultied in striking Han jade burial suits, which were reserved for Emperors, but the defiant King of Nanyue in Guangzhou was buried in one too. These are often shown in history texts on the period also.
Han ideas of preservation were thoroughly flawed...and any such finds as above are a lucky fluke, just as are discoveries of intact wood objects in tombs that have been flooded below the water table (like pictured above).
Local conditions only. A fluke. I am not saying she isnt preserved, but that there was no 'advanced technique' as was the premise of the article.
I hope this is now clear enough.
If any of the above about the construction of Han era tombs based on excavation, or the idea of Jades properties, or the finding of Han funerary objects to preserve the corpse needs referencing back to texts then I can supply them.....but a simple google search should also confirm some of the above concepts of burial during Han as it is commonly reffered to.
To quote the song; 'Dont believe the hype'. Preserved, Yes.....advanced preservation technique? No.
Like a can of tinned food, once the tomb is opened she begins to rot. The element of competition between nationalties and which 'mummies' are best is just a spin by some journalist.
I have seen many references to this tomb find before for studies of the ancient dynasties, and they simply value it as a wonderful time capsule. ANy point scoring between civilsations is a sad digression, and also a pretty flawed one based on what I have just listed above...all common knowledge to any researcher of the Han material culture.

PS; as far as real mummies, and the peat corpses go this is neither the best nor the oldest preserved corpse in the world either.

Edited by Kenneth, 29 June 2005 - 08:03 PM.

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#17 naruwan

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 12:55 PM

You go Kenneth.

To follow your point and also quote from the song "cause Leehom makes no stereotype."
mudanin kata mudanin kata. kata siki-a kata siki-a. muhaiv ludun muhaiv ludun. kanta sipal tas-tas kanta sipal tas-tas. kanta sipal tunuh kanta sipal tunuh. sikavilun vini daingaz sikavilun vini daingaz.

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#18 Kenneth

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 07:39 PM

You go Kenneth.

To follow your point and also quote from the song "cause Leehom makes no stereotype."

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er.......ok.
I was actually quoting the Public Enemy song by the same name.
I must be showing my age as that was nearly 20 years ago.
..still, that Leehom fellow looks like a very nice young man indeed! :haha:
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#19 kelvin

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 06:23 PM

Oh yeah sorry Kenneth, After reading in detail what you had posted. I did missed your point!!

Oh well the media often comes up with bizzare ways of presenting "facts" to catch the public's attention. I don't blame them too much though as they need an eye-catching title to identify with the dis-interested public about an important archeaological find.

It is not as embarassiing as you may think cause many countries/cultures media boast news such as these up their national image and raise public attention.

For those who are true academics in the field know all too well to ignore the media hype, for those who are really interested in the truth look up the details and end up in discussion board like this one. So the fact that we are discussing this topic is already a good sign I see as the story reporting success.

The general public who don't give a **** will forget about this in less than a week. You do have to understand that in mainland china nowadays ppl are a lot more materialistic than the CCP would like to acknowledge.

I personally have read excepts from archeaologists working around the 3 gorges rescue project and from what I've read they avoid the local news media like the plague because what they found as facts could be completely twisted to make fairy tales the next day.

As for the semeitcs of the word " mummy" I was simply trying to show that, even without proper body preservation, the lady Ma could is still a mummy--aka preserved body. The fact that it was natural surrounding/condition and not human tampering is beyond the point.

Comparing between egyptian mummies with this one out right is not appropiate, but the state of the corpse is "INDEED" superb and much more information could be collected from lady ma's body.

I can see your anger at how news reporters invention can mis-inform the public, but if you go check out the polictical forum for a while I am sure you would find out that this mummy report is but a mockery compare to the "other" news coming out from XingHua News.

Alternatively I could relate my numerous embarassing experiences as I was watching TV in China with my US friends and see the CNN news got censored and a chinese slogan floating out as replacement 3 times within the hour. Or that Taiwanese parliemen *****-slapping each other on World TV news. What can I say we Chinese have no shame now, much like the rest of the world :(

#20 Kenneth

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 07:50 PM

heheh.
Interesting what you say about the three gorges project. The whole affair was a tragedy for history due to underfunding of rescue archaeology....anouncing finds to the local media could have also resulting in spates of looting also as I have heard shocking stories from that area in the past.
Yeah, I am sure the Chinese media is not the only media in the world guilty of this 'hyping of the ancestors'...but a lot of the headlines that seem to appear here, and on other forums, discussing the latest discoveries generally aren't fit for an article in 'TV guide'.

It is true exactly what is a 'mummy' isn't really relevant to the value of such finds. Thanks for your comments.
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#21 Sephodwyrm

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 06:29 PM

There's 2 definitions to Mummy.
1. Preserved bodies that underthrough the ancient Egyptian process
2. Otherwise preserved bodies that resemble those that had been embalmed.

IMO, mummification requires:
1. Embalming
2. Deliberate actions of preservation (spices, sand, taking out internal organs and putting them in jars etc)

In this sense the Chinese burial rites include:
1. Washing the body
2. Suiting the body
3. And burying the body.
More attention was given to step 3.
Frankly speaking, I personally don't think that the Lady Dai body was a mummy either. A body preserved through enbalming would be withered. I would expect mummy-like bodies to be unearthed around Xinjiang since the environment would be more similar to that of preservation through enbalming (dry sands etc). The secret ingredient is a salt that soaks up the available fluids in the body and retarding decomposition.

Bodies discovered in the peat bogs were actually BETTER PRESERVED than enbalmed bodies. In this case, the means of retarding decay was anoxic environment.
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#22 Kenneth

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 05:24 PM

are there available pics of the tomb items, e.g. the food

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I finally was taking some picture out of a text for images of Han tombs and remembered I was supposed to post this;
Posted Image

...and here is one of the interior chambers drapped in silk with meals sitting on plates with chopsticks.
Posted Image

I will be posting a thread on silk traces on ancient bronze artefacts based on this tomb image as an example.
http://www.chinahist...=0#entry4746451

Edited by Kenneth, 09 August 2005 - 10:29 PM.

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#23 kelvin

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 03:52 PM

NGS 's DIVA MUMMY shown the other day led me to bring up this issue once again. Without much detail and info I was skeptical about the preservation of the Chinese lady Dai as a per chance event. However, watching the show last night, which showed footage of the chinese film of the autopsy of not only her, but 2 more corpses, one man and one woman, buried within the Yantze River valley some 100 miles apart(the new one in 2002). They all seems to be floating in a mysterious liquid. It was shown in the show that this liquid was recorded to be used and poured into the coffin before it was being sealed. The body was also wrapped up by 20 layer of silk(tightly), ourside the 7 layer lacquered coffin charcoal was used to fill the tomb, then a clay layer to absorb moisture, then soil on top to build a mound. By the archaeologist and narrator there clearly was a protocol, at least a school of protocol/method, maybe practiced by a particular sect of priest/monks(?). As clearly you don't see the same treatment being done to a prince/kings tomb and many other corpses rotted away. Notice that the humid and exteme weather in the Yantze River makes it one of the worst place to preserve a corpse naturally. However, people obviously had some intelligence into combating this as they build the tomb in an inversted pyramid shape, bring the temp of the tomb to a much lower temperature(shown on TV this kind of chamber act as local refrigerator to store banannas.

My conclusion with the information I got after watching this show is that, all the techniques could not explain the elasticity and perfect preservation of the corpse(with oragn and even blood intact -- man's blood was drawn and determined to be AB, in the SHOW). The liquid was the Key. All three were discovered to be "floating" in this un-name liquid. But the composition result, at least preliminary, seems to be of a different sources. I do not buy the idea that its a natural underground seeping of water, for it brings bacteria and the integraty of the corpse will not hold for 2000 years, all your cells will expand and the shape of the corpse will not look like what you see on TV. I also caution the natural preservation theory now because when I come to think of it, natural causes has a larger scale, there should have been more than 3 corpses found by now, probably an entire region with many more corpses, old and new, would have been discovered to have the same phenotype/properties. Not only in CHina, but a lot more places in the world.

My question here is directed to Kenneth, whom I respect as one of the best expert on this site in the subjet of mummies and this topic. Can you share your thought based on this info? Do you still hold your original hypothesis? What do you think of the archaeologist and expert being interviewed in the show. They seem to be to be just as clueless as we watching the show, not much definitive answers. Oh well I missed the last 5 mins.

Interesting that the chinese scientist are already experimenting with a 700 yr old corpse for some years by remaking a solution similar to the liquid found in the tomb. Seems like they had some success.

#24 Genghis_Khan

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 03:59 AM

Is this China's oldest mummy ??

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#25 Kenneth

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 08:02 PM

Lady Dai is not the oldest, nor is she a deliberate mummification. There was even recently a Ching era preserved corpse found in a sealed tomb. The facts that food and wood & textiles in Lady Dai's tomb are preserved while her son and husband beside nearby decayed away to a few scraps of bone shows it was the lucky tomb conditions that preserved her. Han ideas about decay were based on jade, and were quite ineffective.
The Xinjiang mummies are true mummies and are much older. Unlike Lady Dai whose tongue swells grotesquely the Xinjiang mummies had the jaws bound shut (to appear more natural) since they actually planned the process. The earliest causcasian mummies in the region are much older than the Han period, (Shang & West Zhou) even by the East Zhou period Asian folk had mixed with the caucasians there and the mummies occur of both races. Even these Chinese Xinjiang mummies are much older than lady Dai.
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#26 Kenneth

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 08:27 PM

The 'mysterious liquid' is not reffered to in anything I have seen. She was buried with her traditional Chinese medicine which was to treat her heart disease, and was ineffective. I dont know about the other bodies but to suggest a 'mystery liquid' is simply just a distraction from other causes. It is odd if it hasn't had a geuss made about what it is since it would change the way we embalm bodies today if true. It just sounds like a tall tale to me.
The pictures I have of the tomb or other burials do not suggest a mystery liquid, although in the south of China (i.e Yangtse) there are many tombs below the water table and pictures of them full of water are common, items floating in water, archaeologists up to knees in water...etc. This is likely why they seal the tomb with clay and charcoal and so trapped in a cool and dry enviroment.
When people first opened the tomb a visible blue gas escaping frightened them, it was organic matter and the sealed oxegen deprived enviroment escaping.
The burial of Lady Dai has not been commented on as remarkable either in the layered coffin, the tomb size or mound or the treatment of the body before. The chance sealed enviroment of the whole tomb did the work, not any special treatment of the body.
i.e Did the pears and cuts of meat left in her tomb get wrapped in seven layers of silk and sealed in liquid?
(Click to enlarge)
Posted Image
No.
They were on the plates and yet were preserved intact by happy enviromental chance, even fruit. This is why the silk and wooden figures and all sorts were preserved too, despite being outside the coffin.
Posted Image
It seems quite clear.The only thing known about body preservation in Han...as practiced by Emperors and their family....were the ineffectual but beautiful jade suits. Jade plugs and masks were used from Zhou times to prevent decay. This is what the Han put faith in. The concept of body decay was totally different to our own.
I havent seen the 'mystery liquid' but a TV documentary would not be the last word. That bit about the pyramids/cooler temperatures seems to suggest that they are trying deduce reasons that aren't nessecary either. Tombs contemporary vary in mound shape, domes, four sides, wide, tall etc. It is like people saying the pyramids shape even sharpens a knife if you leave it underneath, or that it naturally creates electricity too. Kind of wierd nobody uses it.
There is no need for any mystery technology after all. Take a look at the pictures of the tomb. One good source is a book 'China's Buried Kingdoms' which explains the mechanism of sealed enviroment quite well. The family tombs of her husband and son beside her were excavated and they were only scraps of bone left since they hadn't sealed successfully in the same manner. It all seems to suggest the mystery preserving liquid doesnt exist in the face of the evidence of the tomb itself and neither was either wrapping in silk, layered coffins, or tomb mounds part of the process.
The purpose of the tomb mounds is not to lower temperatures undergound. It dates from before Han and is an attempt to recreate the mountains where immortals dwell, and reach heaven more easily. The Han era ones are even known to have been modelled on auspicious mountains (i.e, named within Maoling). A look at funerary objects like Han bronze incense burners and ceramic storage jars show a repeating mountain/immortal theme in the art.
The layered coffins are common even well after Han, as well as the same tomb mounds...yet there is a distinct lack of preserved corpses. Layering in silk seems common too since bronze items from tombs often have contact or signs of being wrapped in textiles.
Short answer to the question....if the documentary hinges on a 'mystery liquid then it seems quite unnessacry and untill it is even identified then it isn't time to assume a mystery ingredient did the work.
...wouldn't preserved bodies be a little more common if this was true? Wouldn't there be more than a handful found and the family members of Lady Dai (i.e the Marquis) who died only a short time after her wanted to use the same 'liquid' that clearly they knw about?
Wouldn't, if it was a cultural technique, these sort of preserved bodies appear in clusters within burial sites instead of a few out of these hundreds of thousands of tombs excavated, accidently discovered, or looted?
I will await the documentary on NG channel here. It seems odd nobody noticed or commented on the liquid Lady Dai was soaked in untill now. Did it ooze out of those other bodies AFTER the tomb was opened? I have been told that spirit money is placed around the body coffins in traditional burials even in modern times since the body is thought to ooze fluid. I don't know if it does but this is a practice I have been told by Chinese.
It raises a lot of questions.

Edit;
...one interesting thing.
She was buried at the time of Wendi when gold and jade was forbidden as a tomb object by the frugal Emperor (the mortuary industry was draining a lot of valuables). She had other objects like wooden servants and silks as a substitute. Would there have been experiments beyond jade as a preservative?...a mystery elixir?
The thing that suggests the full story is not being told on NG is that the charcoal layer and construction was mentioned elsewhere, but it was never said to be unique or even commented as different when they examined her husband and son or other tombs. Her tomb just seems to have sealed better than usual in that case.
The Ching preserved corpse that surfaced recently was only just over 100 years old and it turned yellow and waxen once exposed to air. It suggests in that case the body is not preserved at all and the enviroment did the work. Once the seal was broken the decay begins, within hours. Maybe the body then oozes fluid as it decays. The change in colour and muscle tone suggests the change in enviroment resumes the decay. (see CHF thread http://www.chinahist...howtopic=10236)

Any mystery fluid should not be a mystery for long if found in 2002, or Lady Dai was more like 20 years ago IIRC. Why are the people in the white coats with microscopes still without a conclusion? It seems to suggest that the mystery liquid is a bit if a tall tale.....why can't a chemist isolate each ingredient? Unless I see the bodies inside the coffins 'swimming' in a liquid then I find it hard to believe this was even the case.
The should be no mystery either way....unless the mystery is more interesting than the truth for a documentary.

....I hope it comes on National Geographic channel here. I hope. I wanna see the corpses.
Untill they explain what was in the liquid, or how it is supposed to work, then I don't assume this liquid is an explanation in itself.



NGS 's DIVA MUMMY shown the other day led me to bring up this issue once again. Without much detail and info I was skeptical about the preservation of the Chinese lady Dai as a per chance event. However, watching the show last night, which showed footage of the chinese film of the autopsy of not only her, but 2 more corpses, one man and one woman, buried within the Yantze River valley some 100 miles apart(the new one in 2002). They all seems to be floating in a mysterious liquid. It was shown in the show that this liquid was recorded to be used and poured into the coffin before it was being sealed. The body was also wrapped up by 20 layer of silk(tightly), ourside the 7 layer lacquered coffin charcoal was used to fill the tomb, then a clay layer to absorb moisture, then soil on top to build a mound. By the archaeologist and narrator there clearly was a protocol, at least a school of protocol/method, maybe practiced by a particular sect of priest/monks(?). As clearly you don't see the same treatment being done to a prince/kings tomb and many other corpses rotted away. Notice that the humid and exteme weather in the Yantze River makes it one of the worst place to preserve a corpse naturally. However, people obviously had some intelligence into combating this as they build the tomb in an inversted pyramid shape, bring the temp of the tomb to a much lower temperature(shown on TV this kind of chamber act as local refrigerator to store banannas. etc


Edited by Kenneth, 24 May 2006 - 10:07 PM.

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#27 Milardo

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:27 PM

The restoration statue is very beautiful. Great clothes! Anyways, does anybody have any more pictures of the Lady Dai besides the main one. Also, anybody have any of those pictures of the other people who were in a state of similar preservation (2 others).
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#28 Milardo

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:30 PM

Does anybody know where I can see that movie Diva Mummy maybe online? Also, I read somewhere that chopsticks were found in the tomb anybody got pictures of those? That is amazing 2000+ year old chopsticks! I still use chopsticks today cool.
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#29 Kenneth

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 02:57 AM

Does anybody know where I can see that movie Diva Mummy maybe online? Also, I read somewhere that chopsticks were found in the tomb anybody got pictures of those? That is amazing 2000+ year old chopsticks! I still use chopsticks today cool.

Look at the black & white picture from the tomb I posted above, click to enlarge it & you can see the bowls and chopsticks there.
Han chopsticks look just like 'modern' chopsticks anyway.

The label says "....chicken drumsticks, spareribs and morsels of fish.......Slender chopsticks neatly lined up, lie ready to be lifted by a ghostly hand."

The Shang had ivory chop sticks and examples from the Han period in bronze have been shown to me(unprovenenced items but certainly that ancient).
At all these times the wooden chopsticks would have been around and more common than bronze or ivory but they have only rarely survived in unusual conditions, such as the conditions of this tomb which preserved the meat on the plates in the same manner it preserved silk, fruits and even the Lady.
Wood decays away in most situations but we still have enough evidence to show that chopsticks existed from ancient times.

Edited by Kenneth, 07 December 2006 - 03:14 AM.

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#30 Kenneth

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 03:11 AM

The restoration {drawing} might be 'beautiful' but it is wrong.

I have written a lot on Lady Dai, but she was old, bent and sick when she died. The skull was not defleshed for restoration (as measurements are needed from a bare skull) but perhaps a CT scan and then a model skull produced by this could allow for reconstruction. But why reconstruct her as a young maiden?. Because it's 'nice'?
Lady Dai (she seems to be refered to as Lady Dai {the Lady of Dai?} or Lady Xin equally) was a bent old woman when she died, walked with a cane and and had several health compliants. Heart disease was the killer. Her medicine was ineffective and there is no reason to assume this somehow preserved her.
I believe I listed all this from the autopsy earlier.
She is even shown on a silk painting in her own tomb, a long silk banner, and this shows her as an old woman (with a slight neck deformation due to age) being attended by young ladies.
She wasn't a lovely maiden.
The picture then is basically silly IMO.

I have pictures of what she looks like now in some books at home, and she is clearly an accidental preservation with her swollen toungue and equally preserved tomb contents (compared to her totally decayed husband and son).
She needs to be stored with great care in modern times since she is not preserved in the true sense and needs a very special enviroment.
She is not very aesthetically pleasing compared to other true mummies or preserved corpses even if she is amazing.
Here is an image off the web, but I have seen others equally un-elegant.
It all goes to show, don't believe everything you see & read.

Posted Image

Maybe I'll add some pictures later of her body, and the Han painting of what she looked like.
She wasn't a hottie.

Edited by Kenneth, 07 December 2006 - 04:04 PM.

Climb over the Great Firewall.
http://www3.youtube....h?v=tzax4KkQ4ug

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