The 336-year-old remains of a Scandinavian bishop revealed that he was not buried alone.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden said the mummified body of Bishop Peder Winstrup was in remarkable condition, the Guardian reported (video below).
An initial CT scan revealed that all internal organs were intact but that wasn’t the most shocking discovery.
“One of the main discoveries when we conducted the CT scanning was that Mr. Winstrup is not alone in the coffin,” director of the Historical Museum at Lund University Per Karsten told the Guardian. “Actually, he has a companion, a small child, a five- to six-months-old fetus of a human child, and it has been deliberately concealed under his feet at the bottom of the coffin – so maybe there is a connection.”
According to a news release from the university, Winstrup died in 1697 at the age of 74. He was laid to rest in Lund Cathedral. Karsten is now trying to make the connection between the bishop and the fetus.
“You can only speculate as to whether it was one of Winstrup’s next of kin, or whether someone else took the opportunity while preparing the coffin,” Karsten said in a statement. “But we hope to be able to clarify any kinship through a DNA test.”
Aside from the fetus, the bishop’s body was reportedly in remarkable shape. Researchers believe the excellent condition of Winstrup’s mummified body can be attributed to good air flow, the coffin’s natural material, and the climate maintained inside the cathedral.
“We can now observe that Winstrup’s mummy is one of the best-preserved bodies from Europe in the 1600s, with an information potential well in line with that offered by Otzi the ice man or Egyptian mummies,” Karsten said in a statement. “His remains constitute a unique archive of medical history on the living conditions and health of people living in the 1600s.”
Researchers also concluded that Winstrup likely had access to fatty and sugary foods based on the gallstones and condition of his teeth. They also found that the bishop had an unusual injury.
“His right shoulder was slightly higher than his left, due to an injury to a tendon in the shoulder,” Caroline Ahlstrom Arcini, an osteologist, explained, according to Lund University. “This would have limited Winstrup’s mobility, making it difficult for him to carry out simple everyday tasks such as putting on a shirt or combing his hair with the comb in his right hand.”
The bodies will eventually be reburied together.