Xu Fan
Human Mummy
Biographical Information
Name(s) Xu Fan
Age 60
Sex Male
Status Noble
Height 1.71 m
Culture Ancient China
Date(s) 1532 AD
Site Nanjing, China
Current Location
Location University of Nanjing, China
Catalog #
Xu Fan is an Ancient Chinese mummy. The mummy was discovered on 2003 in Nanjing along with another mummy by its side. After thorough examinations, it wasdiscovered that the mummy was a military general named Xu Fan from the Ming dynasty era, and the  mummy by its side was his wife, Zhang Panlong.

The Xu Fan mummy currently rests at the University of Nanjing in China.


Since the mummy was well preserved and complete, it was ideal for osteobiographical analysis. After being examined, archaeologists and medical experts were first able to determined many of the mummy's important characteristics, including age, sex, the time period it was from, etc. The mummy did not appear to have any dental disease, but there was simply not enough evidence to confirm that. Furthermore, the mummy was wrapped in silk. Since silk was very expensive back then, ordinary citizens could not afford it, which suggests that he was a noble. Lastly, the scars left on the mummy implied that he was a soldier. [2]

To narrow down the mummy's identity, experts searched through historical records from the Ming dynasty in 1500s. Eventually, a conclusion was made that the mummy belonged to Xu Fan, a military general. Unfortunately, not much is known about Xu Fan, except that he served in the Ming Court as a minister, and was then appointed as the commander of Yangzhou city. [2]


Unlike the Egyptian-style artificial mummification, Xu Fan was naturally mummified, which means that it was not manually processed before its burial. The body was wrapped with coarse wool, sheepskin and silk. Then, it was directly buried. Due the climate, the body was very dry and dehydrated. This created an extremely unfavourable environment for bacteria growth and reproduction, which explains why the mummy is so well preserved, even to today. [1]


Buried along with the mummies were several clay crafted models. [1] These models are called Mingqi, and they are funerary objects that the Chinese traditionally place in the tombs to provide the dead with an environment that he or she enjoyed while alive. [3]


Xu Fan was concluded to have died of a heart disease. [2]


  1. Xin Hua Net. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from
  2. Baidu Wenku. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from
  3. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2010, February 03). Mingqi. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.