Charts & Graphs

Forever Young

Preservation methods for the dead.

  • Tutankhamen, 1323 bc

    Mummification: Tut’s body was wrapped in linen and resin and sealed in gold coffins that were discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, who was forced to sever all the joints in order to remove it.

  • Oliver Cromwell, September 3, 1658

    Embalming: Cromwell’s body was embalmed and his head later severed and stuck on a spike at Westminster Hall. It passed through a series of private collectors and was finally buried in 1960.

  • Jeremy Bentham, June 6, 1832

    Stuffing: Bentham’s skeleton was seated in a cabinet, dressed in his clothes, stuffed with hay, and topped off with a wax head; he remains on display at University College, London.

  • Bernadette of Lourdes, April 16, 1879

    Saintliness: Bernadette’s body was exhumed three times after her death (the lack of decomposition used as an argument for her canonization), and she was put on display in Nevers in 1925.

  • Jumbo, September 15, 1885

    Taxidermy: P.T. Barnum’s beloved elephant was stuffed and toured with the circus for four years. Then it was donated to Tufts University, where it was destroyed in a fire in 1975, and now only the tail remains preserved.

  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, January 21, 1924

    Embalming: Lenin’s body was put on display almost immediately after his death; he remains in his mausoleum in Red Square, where every six months he is bathed in herbs and chemicals.

  • Timothy Leary, May 31, 1996

    Orbiting earth: Leary’s body was cremated, and seven grams of his remains were shot into outer space.

  • Ted Williams, July 5, 2002

    Cryogenic freezing: Williams’ body and head were separately suspended in liquid nitrogen at a cryonics company in Arizona, a process that cost $136,000.