The Zagreb Mummy
This is a very rare and interesting case because the mummy itself is not particularly significant. It’s in a pretty average condition—nothing special. She wasn’t somebody important, either. A papyrus buried with her identifies the mummy as the wife of an Egyptian tailor. What is interesting about her, though, is what she was buried in: an ancient text featuring a famous lost language.
The document in question is known as the Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis (Linen Book of Zagreb) or just the Liber Linteus. You can call it the linen book and people will know what you’re talking about because this is the only extant linen book in history. Despite the fact that it’s 2,300 years old, it’s in incredibly good condition because it was used as mummy wrappings.
The language in question is Etruscan. It’s a language about which we know almost nothing because very few Etruscan texts exist today. The Liber Linteus is, by far, the largest source of information of the Etruscan language we have, and we have only been capable of translating small portions of it. The writing is so obscure that the scientists who initially discovered the mummy and its wrappings originally confused it for Egyptian hieroglyphics. It took over 40 years following its discovery to correctly identify the language as Etruscan.
The Beauty of Xiaohe
It’s very rare that you could call a mummy beautiful, but you could see why the Beauty of Xiaohe deserves her nickname. Her facial features have remained mostly intact even if she’s been dead for almost 4,000 years. This includes skin, hair and even eyelashes, allowing her once natural beauty to be evident even now, so long after death.
She is part of the Tarim mummies, so called because they were found in the Tarim Basin in modern day Xinjiang, China. As it turned out, this area’s natural conditions are ideal for body preservation.
Another notable aspect of the Beauty of Xiaohe is how she was found. All of her belongings were still with her, which is actually pretty rare for a mummy. These provided researchers with great insights into what kind of life she once led. As it turned out, she wasn’t just another pretty face. The “Beauty” was actually a village elder or held an equally important status which granted her a fancy burial after death.