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  • The embalmed heart of Richard the Lionheart (1199 A.D.): a biological and anthropological analysis.

The embalmed heart of Richard the Lionheart (1199 A.D.): a biological and anthropological analysis.

Scientific reports (2013-03-02)
Philippe Charlier, Joël Poupon, Gaël-François Jeannel, Dominique Favier, Speranta-Maria Popescu, Raphaël Weil, Christophe Moulherat, Isabelle Huynh-Charlier, Caroline Dorion-Peyronnet, Ana-Maria Lazar, Christian Hervé, Geoffroy Lorin de la Grandmaison
ABSTRACT

During the Middle Ages, the partition of the cadaver of the elite members was a current practice, with highly technical treatment given to symbolic organs such as the heart. Considered mostly from a theoretical point of view, this notion of dilaceratio corporis has never been biologically explored. To assess the exact kind of embalming reserved to the heart, we performed a full biomedical analysis of the mummified heart of the English King Richard I (1199 A.D.). Here we show among other aspects, that the organ has been embalmed using substances inspired by Biblical texts and practical necessities of desiccation. We found that the heart was deposed in linen, associated with myrtle, daisy, mint, frankincense, creosote, mercury and, possibly, lime. Furthermore, the goal of using such preservation materials was to allow long-term conservation of the tissues, and good-smelling similar to the one of the Christ (comparable to the odor of sanctity).

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
Oleanolic acid, ≥97%
Supelco
Oleanolic acid, analytical standard
Oleanolic acid, primary reference standard