Mellified Man
Human Mummy
Biographical Information
Name(s) Mellified Man
Sex male
Culture Persian
Current Location
Catalog #

A legendary medicinal substance created by steeping a cadaver in honey, one administered topically, or orally as medicine.


The method was first mentioned in the 16th-century text Bencao Gangmu, or The Compendium of Materia Medica, authored by Li Shizhen, a Chinese pharmacologist.The process, which came to the Chinese from Arabia, typically started with a willing volunteer, who was almost always an elderly male. The volunteer would eat, drink, and bathe in nothing but honey. Within one to two months, the volunteer would die, after which they would be interred in a coffin made of stone and filled with honey.

The date is put upon the coffin giving the year and month. After a hundred years the seals are removed. A substance is formed which is used for the treatment of broken and wounded limbs.

Li Shizhen was careful to point out that he did not know for certain whether the mellified man story was true.


Antibacterial properties of honey are also the outcome of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect with high acidity, the combination of high acidity, hygroscopic and antibacterial effect which has resulted to honey’s reputation being an appropriate choice to mummify.


Ananauri Barrow in Georgia, built about 2400 BC with its microclimate remaining relatively untouched, a large amount of organic tissue was preserved, as well as a variety of walnuts, chestnuts and forest berries that were apparently included into the burial rite. They are all in a relatively good condition, which makes it a unique discovery and allows scientists to research it in great detail. The berries, were also covered in honey.

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