|Christian Friedrich von Kahlbutz|
|Complete view of the Kahlbutz mummy|
|Name(s)||Christian Friedrich von Kahlbutz|
Christian Friedrich von Kahlbutz (1651 in Kampehl, Brandenburg – 1702 in Kampehl) was a German knight, who is today most famous because of the state of preservation of his body; no noticeable mummification process was used upon his death. Today the preserved corpse is a tourist attraction.
The natural decay process of a corpse can be stopped or retarded under certain circumstances, in which the corpse becomes leathery. Air conditions surrounding the body as well as the condition of the ground in which it is buried are most often contributing factors. Absolute dryness, local radioactivity, or other ground factors such as acidity or salts. Also hermetically sealed coffins without steadily moving air can contribute. Likewise, a small ingestion of poisonous medicines, i.e. very small quantities innocuous to an individual, during one's lifetime can aid in the mummification process after death. These kinds of substances are not readily detectable long after death though since the fat and water in the corpse changes and evaporates over time.
According to several sources, Kahlbutz suffocated on his own blood, which suggests that shortly before his death he lost a great deal of blood. After his death he was buried in an oak double coffin. Bodily decay may have been prevented by the fact that prior to being hermetically sealed in the coffin, he had lost a great deal of blood, in combination with the lack of soil containing decay-accelerating materials.
Several tests have been done on the mummy of the knight to figure out why a body that apparently was not embalmed has not undergone the natural decay process. In the 1890s, Rudolf Virchow and Ferdinand Sauerbruch tested the mummy as did Charité, the largest university hospital in Europe, but all without success. It remains a mystery as to why Kahlbutz's corpse has not decayed, but there are a few other similar cases where the natural decay process has not affected the individual.
Today it is accepted that Kahlbutz suffered from some kind of illness, which caused an emaciation of his body. Possible diseases that he suffered from are cancer, muscular dystrophy, and tuberculosis. There is evidence that he did in fact suffer from the latter.
A.C. Aufderheide: The geography of mummies. – In: A.C. Aufderheide (ed.): The Scientific Study of Mummies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003. p.: 170.