For millennia, humans have been preserving the bodies of the dead. These mummies are often a priceless window into a long-forgotten world and have paved the way for some of history’s most extraordinary discoveries. From world leaders to beloved family members, here are 11 famous mummies from around the world that you can see today.
1Napoleon Bonaparte, France
It is perhaps unsurprising that Napoleon Bonaparte was preserved like so many other legendary dead rulers. A cast was taken of his head two days after his death, and his body was placed in a tin coffin with three outer layers made of wood, lead, and mahogany. This was then placed in a sarcophagus put on display in Les Invalides in Paris.
One of the most famous mummies in the world, “King Tut” was discovered in his tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. Filled with priceless treasures, the discovery of his tomb led to a renewed interest in Ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun reigned for almost 10 years between c. 1332–1323 BC during the 18th dynasty. His death mask has become one of the most iconic symbols of Ancient Egypt. While his body is on display at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, his funerary items are in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and amongst museums around the world.
3Vladimir Lenin, Russia
Shortly after his death in 1924, Vladimir Lenin’s body was taken to Moscow’s Red Square and displayed. Decades of preservation using acetic acid and vodka have ensured that the body of the Soviet Union’s founding father remains fit for viewing even today.
Estimated to have died around 3300 BC, Ötzi the Iceman was found in the Ötztal Alps by hikers. His body was so well preserved that they believed it was a recently deceased mountaineer. He is Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy and has offered great insight into the lives of early Europeans. Ötzi’s body can be seen at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
5St Bernadette, France
A humble French nun, St. Bernadette was said to have had visions of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Upon her death in 1879, various members of the community observed that her body seemed to be decomposing at an abnormally slow rate, and saw it as a miracle. Later, wax casts were made of her face and hands and placed over the body which can be seen on display at the Chapel of St. Bernadette in Nevers.
One of Egypt‘s most famous female pharaohs, Hatshepsut reigned for two decades. Considered one of the most successful pharaohs, she established various building projects and trade routes. When Hatshepsut died in 1458 BC, her step-son, Thutmose III, or grandson, Amenhotep II, attempted to remove her from history. She can be found at the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
7Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
One of Vietnam‘s most respected leaders, Ho Chi Minh led the Viet Minh Independence Movement. After his death in 1969, the Vietnamese capital was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, and an enormous mausoleum was constructed in Hanoi. Like many other communist leaders, his body remains on display.
8Rosalia Lombardo, Italy
Having died just before her second birthday in 1920, the heartbroken father of Rosalia Lombardo had her embalmed to preserve her body. The body is so well preserved, that some say she looks like she’s only sleeping. She can be seen in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in Sicily.
9Lady Dai (Xin Zhui), China
This Han Dynasty mummy is of Xin Zhui, wife of Li Chang, the Marquis of Dai. A noblewoman who lived an extravagant life, Xin Zhui gained fame over 2000 years after her death when her tomb was discovered in 1971. She was so well preserved that her muscles still allowed for her arms and legs to flex at the joints. Considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, her remains can be seen at the Hunan Provincial Museum.
10Mummy Juanita, Peru
The 500 Mummy Juanita has been called the “Inca Ice Maiden”. Around 12 years old at the time of her death, she was killed as part of an offering to the Inca gods in the 15th century. Buried in the Peruvian Andes, she was preserved by the freezing temperatures, giving scientists an insight into Incan life. Today, she rests the Catholic University of Santa María’s Museum of Andean Sanctuaries in Arequipa, Peru.
11Ramses II, Egypt
While the mummy of King Tut might be more famous, Ramses II is known as one of the greatest pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. Reigning for almost 60 years, he greatly expanded the Egyptian empire. Upon his death at the age of 91 in 1213 BC, he was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It was later moved for the fear of looters and was discovered in 1881. It is now on display in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Unlike most other mummies, Ramses has even been issued an Egyptian passport!