Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Friday, 22 April 2016

Solving the mystery of the mummified lung

In 1959 a preserved lung was found by archaeologist Michel Fleury in a stone sarcophagus in the Basilica of St. Denis, in Paris. At this site the kings of France were buried for centuries. Along with the lung skeletal remains, a strand of hair, textile and leather fragments, as well as a golden ring with the inscription “Arnegundis Regine”, were found. Among the grave goods, an elaborate copper belt was also discovered. 

Drawing of the old queen Arnegunde, with the dress she probably  wore when she died 
[Credit: L. Brossard/Inrap] 

The inscription on the golden ring showed the remains belonged to the Merovigian Queen Arnegunde. Arnegunde, Aregunda, Aregund, Aregonda or Arnegonda (c. 515/520-580) was a Frankish queen, the wife of Clotaire I, king of the Franks, and the mother of Chilperic I of Neustria. 

The discovery of the preserved lung raised the question of how it could be preserved while the body was completely skeletonized.

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