Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bodily preservation


I was reading about an excavation in 1485 of a tomb on the Appian Way in Rome. The body of the 26 year old woman is speculated to be that of Cicero's daughter. Here's a contemporary account from the diary of Antonio di Vaseli:

"To‑day, April 19, 1485, the news came into Rome, that a body buried a thousand years ago had been found in a farm of Santa Maria Nova, in the Campagna, near the Casale Rotondo. . . . The Conservatori of Rome despatched a coffin to Santa Maria Nova elaborately made, and a company of men for the transportation of the body into the city. The body has been placed for exhibition in the Conservatori palace, and large crown of citizens and noblemen have gone to see it. The body seems to be covered with a glutinous substance, a mixture of myrrh and other precious ointments, which attract swarms of bees. The said body is intact. The hair is long and thick; the eyelashes, eyes, nose, and ears are spotless, as well as the nails. It appears to be the body of a woman, of good size; and her head is covered with a light cap of woven gold thread, very beautiful. The teeth are white and perfect; the flesh and the tongue retain their natural color; but if the glutinous substance is washed off, the flesh blackens in less than an hour. Much care has been taken in searching the tomb in which the corpse was found, in the hope of discovering the epitaph, with her name; it must be an illustrious one, because none but a noble and wealthy person could afford to be buried in such a costly sarcophagus thus filled with precious ointments."

2 Comments:

Blogger Eurodog said...

WW, why do we no longer have white and perfect teeth?
We would be in trouble if we wanted to do this with our deceased. What with bees disappearing fast.
Interesting read, WW.

12:08 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Salut ED - well I suppose sugar, coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine etc all take their toll on our teeth.

8:51 am  

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