Xin Zhui also known as Lady of Dai was born 213 BC in China during the Han Dynasty. She was an affluent noblewoman married to Li Cheng, a Chinese marquis who ruled the fiefdom of Dai which is now known as the modern Changsha. She was also a significant member of the Xin powerful clan. She died in 163 BC and her tomb was found in the early 1970s on Mawangdui, a hill in Changsha, near the capital of Hunan Province in China. The body was so well preserved that she is said to be the best preserved ancient human ever found.
In 1971, workers digging an air raid shelter for a hospital near Changsha unearthed the tomb of Xin Zhui, as well as the tombs of her husband and a young man who is most commonly thought to be their son. With the assistance of over 1,500 local high school students, archaeologists began a large excavation of the site beginning in January 1972. Xin Zhui's body was found within four rectangular pine constructs that sat inside one another which were buried beneath layers of charcoal and white clay. The corpse was wrapped in twenty layers of clothing bound with silk ribbons.
The body was so well preserved that her skin was soft and moist, with muscles, limbs and internal organs still intact. There was still blood in her veins, joints were still flexible, eyelashes and hair still intact. The autopsy revealed that Xin Zhui's organs were still in good condition, even down to her lungs nerve. Interestingly enough, her thinning black hair was soft and delicate and most notably, her veins still ran dried type A blood. This is believed to be because of the 22 dresses of silk and hemp and nine silk ribbons that Lady Dai was wrapped in. Some scientists believe that her preservation lies in the mysterious unidentified reddish liquid found in the coffin she was in.
This preservation allowed doctors at Hunan Provincial Medical Institute to perform an autopsy on 14 December 1972.Much of what is known about Xin Zhui's lifestyle was derived from this and other examinations. In other studies pathologists found trances of 138 undigested melon seeds. These seeds were found in her stomach, intestines, and esophagus. It was determined that Xin Zhui died shortly after eating the melons.
As age caught up with her, Xin Zhui suffered from a number of ailments that would eventually lead to her death. Alongside a number of internal parasites, she also had coronary thrombosis and arteriosclerosis, most likely linked to excessive weight gained due to a sedentary lifestyle. A fused spinal disc probably caused her immense pain, which contributed to a decrease in physical activity. She also suffered from gallstones, one of which lodged in her bile duct and further deteriorated her condition.Her cause of death was a heart attack, brought about by years of poor health.
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"Research on Preservation Techniques of Corpse in Mawangdui". Hunan Provincial Museum. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
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