The mummified remains of 265 people, laid to rest in coffins between 1731 and 1838 in a church at Vác, Hungary, were rediscovered in 1994. Each body was laid to rest in a coffin that was hand painted and then stacked on top of one another. Most of these coffins included names and dates of death, making it an an extraordinary find.
Of the 265 mummified bodies found, only a handful have not yet been identified. This list of identified bodies includes: 3 nuns, 30 priests, the wife and child of the local postmaster, several surgeons, the founder of the Vac hospital, as well as the first director for Vac's school of the deaf.
MummificationThe mummification process of the Vac Mummies happened naturally due to the microclimate inside the crypt. Inside the crypt, low temperatures, constant humidity and air pressure made for favourable conditions to allow the bodies to dry out naturally. The bodies were laid on top of beds of wood chips within their coffins and this helped to draw out and absorb the bodily fluids, which allowed the bodies to gradually dry out instead of decompose.
The Vac Mummies are being studied by scientists who hope to learn more about tuberculosis and perhaps come up with a new way to treat the disease. Many of the remains have undergone CT scans, genetic testing and other laboratory testing.
Over 89% of the bodies found in the crypt had been infected by tuberculosis. This historical find has allowed researchers to learn more about tuberculosis, and to continue their research to find new or more effective ways to treat the disease. Researchers extracted samples from 26 of the Vac mummiess with markers for TB. Eight yielded a sample good enough to enable genetic sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis germs. By building a family tree of the germ, the team dated the bacterial ancestor to the late Roman period.
One of the mummies shows evidence of having c-section.
The mummies are housed at the Hungarian Natural History Museum
Gorondi, P. (2012, August 5). Hungary: 18th century mummies aid medical research. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-hungary-18th-century-mummies-aid-medical-research-2012aug05-story.html
Reeves, C. (2014, August 26).Naturally-preserved Mummies in Budapest’s Natural History Museum and the town Vác. BSHS Travel Guide: A Travel Guide to Scientific Sites. Retrieved from http://www.bshs.org.uk/travel-guide/naturally-preserved-mummies-in-budapests-natural-history-museum-and-the-town-vac-2