Sunday, March 3

Lionheart’s heart

Richard I, the lionheart had his heart embalmed. So what came out of the result?

Abstract: During the Middle Ages, the partition of the cadaver of the elite members was a current practice, with highly technical treatment given to symbolic organs such as the heart. Considered mostly from a theoretical point of view, this notion of dilaceratio corporis has never been biologically explored. To assess the exact kind of embalming reserved to the heart, we performed a full biomedical analysis of the mummified heart of the English King Richard I (1199 A.D.). Here we show among other aspects, that the organ has been embalmed using substances inspired by Biblical texts and practical necessities of desiccation. We found that the heart was deposed in linen, associated with myrtle, daisy, mint, frankincense, creosote, mercury and, possibly, lime. Furthermore, the goal of using such preservation materials was to allow long-term conservation of the tissues, and good-smelling similar to the one of the Christ (comparable to the odor of sanctity).

Here is the lead box in which his heart was stored


and the second photo shows what’s in the box.


i was quite taken aback. I would have thought that the embalmed heart will look vaguely like a heart, not these fragments and fabric components? Here’s an example of mummified organs


Curious, eh?

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