Mummified captain found drifting at sea

Mummified Captain Found Drifting at Sea

The mummified remains of a man last seen seven years ago have been found drifting aboard his yacht 50 miles off the Philippines coast.
Mummified captain Manfred Fritz Bajorat drifted on ghost ship for seven years.
The mummified remains of Manfred Fritz Bajorat found at sea aboard half-submerged yacht.

Of all the strange things found on the high seas, this one might be the creepiest…and the saddest. Express reported that two fisherman recently discovered a yacht partially submerged off the coast of Barobo in the Philippines. When they climbed aboard, they came face to face with the grey, mummified remains of its captain amidst strewn food, photo albums and clothes.

He was still sitting at his desk, where he had possibly been using the radio equipment to make a distress call before he died.

Paperwork on board identified the man as Manfred Fritz Bajorat, a German explorer last seen in Mallorca, Spain by a fellow sailor in 2009. Authorities speculate the cause of death may have been a heart attack. A broken mast suggests the yacht may have encountered bad weather.

High temperatures, dry ocean winds, and salty air preserved the corpse as the boat drifted around the globe.

Mummified sailor found at sea

On the condition of the remains, Jeremy Laurance writes for The Independent:

Pictures show a man with silver hair and a beard, his head leaning towards his crooked arm, which is resting on the table, as if he were studying a chart. His body is remarkably intact. Seated in the cabin, it was protected from scavenging sea birds; and the high temperature, low humidity and salty sea-air appear to have combined to produce ideal conditions for preservation of the corpse.

Had he fallen into the water, it would have been a different story. In tropical seas, decomposition and putrefaction begin quickly and progress rapidly. A body may sink to the bottom initially but the bacterial action which causes it to bloat with gas will normally mean that, after three or four days, it will again float to the surface, where it is exposed to sea-birds, sharks and buffeting by the waves.

In cold water, this process may be slowed. The tissues form a soapy, fatty acid known as “grave wax” that protects the corpse and halts bacterial growth. Bodies have been recovered almost completely intact after several weeks in cold seas. However, a natural mummification such as Bajorat’s is rare, as it requires extreme conditions of cold, salinity, acidity or aridity.

UPDATE: The Independent article also reports that, though he has not been seen since 2009, the last message received from Bajorat was a year ago.

Mummified Remains of Bishop Peder Winstrup Present New Mystery

The well-preserved remains of bishop Peder Winstrup prove to be a unique time capsule from the 17th century.

The mummified remains of Peder Winstrup, which still contain the internal organs, are one of the best-preserved human bodies from the 1600s.

The mummified remains of Peder Winstrup, a bishop and founding father of Lund University, have been examined and noted for their preservation several times since his death in 1679. In 2014 Winstrup was removed from the cathedral crypt so researchers could finally study the remains before giving him his final burial.

A preliminary CT scan has revealed that the internal organs are intact, making Winstrup a time capsule of life in the 1600s.

Why is the bishop so well preserved?

According to the Lund University report:

Usually the internal organs would have been removed; in this case, however, the body was not embalmed in a traditional manner but simply dried out naturally. The good condition of the body seems to be the result of several factors in combination: constant air flow, the plant material in the coffin, a long period of illness resulting in the body becoming lean, death and burial during the winter months of December?January and the general climate and temperature conditions in the cathedral.

The examination has already determined a number of things about his health when he died, including that he was bedridden for a long period before death, had gallstones, possibly tuberculosis and pneumonia, and had plaque buildup in his arteries.

The mummified remains of 17th century bishop Peder Winstrup

While many questions are being answered, an unexpected new mystery was revealed when the contents of the bishop’s coffin were scanned. The unidentified remains of a four-or-five-month old fetus was found hidden under his feet. Researchers will perform DNA testing to determine if there is any relation.

When the study of the remains is complete, Winstrup will be buried in a casket that will keep him preserved so future research can be carried out.

The coffin of Peder Winstrup in the crypt of Lund Cathedral
The coffin of Peder Winstrup in the crypt of Lund Cathedral before it was removed for research. Photo: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikipedia Commons

via Lund University and Lundagard

Chinchorro Mummies Turning Into ‘Black Ooze’

Climate change is putting the Chinchorro mummies of ancient Chile at risk of rapid decomposition that will turn them into a black ooze.
The Chinchorro mummies of ancient Chile are at risk of rapid decomposition

The world’s oldest mummies, made by the Chinchorro people as early as 7,000 years ago in what is now northern Chile and southern Peru, are at risk of rapid decomposition. Scientists are warning that due to climate change and rising humidity levels, flourishing microbes are threatening to reduce the ancient remains into nothing more than a “black ooze.”

The University of Tarapaca’s archeological museum in Arica, northern Chile is already seeing the effects on some of its 120 Chinchorro mummies.

via CNN

A Chinchorro mummy with a clay mask

While the earliest known Egyptian mummy dates to around 3000 BC, it is believed that the Chinchorro mummies appeared around 5000 BC. The process involved removing the organs and replacing them with natural fibers and ash. The flesh was removed and replaced with clay, and a clay mask was put over the face before wrapping the bodies in reeds to dry.

The Chinchorro culture is notable in the fact that mummification was performed on all members of society, rather than restricting the practice to the elite. They were the only people preserving their dead among the other cultures in the area.

A Chinchorro mummy in the Atacama desert

Naturally mummified remains were discovered along the arid Atacama desert coast dating to around 7000 BC.

London Cotton to Gold Exhibit Displays Cursed Peruvian Mummy

An 800-year-old haunted Peruvian mummy is currently on display in London for the Cotton to Gold exhibit, which showcases the extraordinary treasures of 19th century Lancashire cotton magnates.
Mummy of a 12th century Incan nobelman on display at the Cotton to Gold exhibition in London
Mummy of an Incan Nobleman from Chaplanca, Peru, 12th Century

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cotton was booming in Lancashire. Industrialists and entrepreneurs were pouring their fortunes into priceless relics, art and oddities that ended up in the collections of local museums.

Many of these items can currently be seen on display as part of the Winter Exhibition at Two Temple Place in London called Cotton to Gold. The exhibit includes rare Roman coins, priceless medieval manuscripts, JMW Turner watercolours, Tiffany glass, Japanese prints, Byzantine icons, ivory sculptures, stuffed birds, preserved beetles and…a Peruvian mummy.

An electrical engineer by the name of William T Taylor unearthed the mummy, a 12th century Peruvian nobleman, during his travels in 1913. In his llama fur-bound diary, Taylor details the perilous journey into the dark, bat-and-bone-filled cave in the Andes to extract the mummy, crate it and send it to Towneley Hall.

It is there that the supposedly haunted remains still normally reside, tucked away in a cardboard box. It is rumored that there is bloodshed every time the mummy is moved.

Due to budget cuts, many of these extraordinary items are rarely ever seen anymore. Curators of Cotton to Gold hope to renew interest in them, and save the languishing institutions that house them. Find more info at

via The Guardian

Mummy Brown: Painting with the Dead

Interior of the Kitchen was painted using mummy brown by Martin Drolling in 1815
“Interior of the Kitchen” was painted by Martin Drölling in 1815 using Mummy Brown.

In a 1964 Time Magazine article, the managing director of London color maker C. Roberson said “We might have a few odd limbs lying around somewhere, but not enough to make any more paint.” Once a popular pigment for its tone and transparency, Mummy Brown eventually vanished due to a shortage of its primary ingredient…human remains.

Egyptian mummies became highly sought after in the 16th century for medicinal purposes. Tombs were regularly plundered for the ancient, preserved corpses they contained.

As recently as 1908, Mummia was still being sold as a cure-all to be rubbed on topically or dissolved in water and swallowed. It contained the ground up remains of mummies, which were commonly believed to contain a mysterious life force able to heal any ailment once ingested.

Vintage photo of a man selling mummies, dated 1875.
Man selling mummies, 1875

Painting with Mummies

Mummies started finding their way into paint in the early 1700s. Mixed with white pitch and myrrh, Mummy Brown was a rich brown pigment that became highly sought after despite numerous inferior technical qualities. In 1849, it was described as “quite in vogue.”

Mummy Brown began to lose favor when it the origins of the color became known. In the biography of artist Edward Burne-Jones’ widow, she describes a funeral for a tube of the paint after the artist learned it was truly made with mummies. Still, Mummy Brown remained in use until the supply of preserved remains ran dry in the 20th century.

Though Drölling’s work above is one of the most well-known paintings to use Mummy Brown, it is believed his paint was not made from Egyptian mummies, but rather from the remains of French kings disinterred from the royal abbey of St. Denis in Paris.

via Strange Remains