Chinese archaeologists are mystified by a 300-year-old burial site in which two individuals were reduced to bones but one was completely preserved.
According to specialists, when one of the coffins was uncovered, the man’s face was completely preserved.
Yet, within hours the face began to turn black and a horrible odor emanated from the body.
Baffled Chinese archaeologists are examining a 300-year-old coffin that was discovered alongside two others, two of whose occupants were reduced to bones while the third was almost well preserved.
The skin of the body, which has been sent to the local university for examination, has likewise darkened.
The corpse is believed to date back to the Qing Dynasty.
It was discovered on October 10 in a two-meter-deep hole on a building site in Xiangcheng, Henan province, central China.
According to Dr. Lukas Nickel, an expert in Chinese art and archaeology at SOAS, University of London, such preservations were not deliberate.
‘The Chinese did not do any treatment of the body to preserve it as known from ancient Egypt, for instance.
‘They did, however, try to protect the body by putting it into mᴀssive coffins and stable tomb chambers.
‘So the integrity of the physical structure of the body was important to them. In early China, at least, one expected the ԀeαԀ person to live on in the tomb.’
Occasionally bodies in the Qing Dynasty were preserved by the natural conditions around the coffin.
In this case, the body may have had a lacquered coffin, covered in charcoal – which was common at the time. This means bacteria would have been unable to get in.
Dr Nickel added that if this was the case, as soon as air hit the body, the natural process would be for it to turn black and quickly disintegrate.
When the coffin was opened by Xiangcheng historians, the man’s face was almost normal, but within hours it began to become black and a horrible odor arose.
According to historian Dong Hsiung, the garments on the remains show that he was a high-ranking official from the early Qing Dynasty.
Amazingly, the body seems to age hundreds of years in a single day, as time seems to be catching up with it.
The Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1912, was the final imperial dynasty of China prior to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
During the rule of the Qing, the empire tripled in size and the population swelled from around 150 million to 450 million.
China’s current borders are primarily determined by the land ruled by the Qing dynasty.
Under the Qing Dynasty, the oldest son was responsible for burial ceremonies, which included a significant number of officials.
Professor Dong suggests an alternate preservation hypothesis. He said, “It is probable that the man’s relatives utilized certain things to preserve the remains.” After it was unsealed, the natural degradation process could begin in earnest.