10 Famous Preserved Corpses

The most fascinating preserved bodies and mummies. Spoiler: your mum isn't anywhere on here.

Mummy Legacy

Let's have a nice probe of a dead body shall we?

Mummies are not intrinsically Egyptian: a mummy is essentially a body (or a collection of organs) that have been preserved. The reason we tend to hold 'mummy' synonymous with 'Egypt' would be the meticulous fervour with which the ancient Egyptians preserved their dead. And the image of a zombie in bandages has helped to create a specific image in the public consciousness.

Mummies also tend to come in two distinct flavours (please do not try and taste mummies): natural and unnatural. Unnatural mummies are the kind we are most familiar with. Wrapping a corpse in bandages, freezing it in a secret lab, or embalming it are all methods of creating an unnatural mummy.

The natural variety might be a smidge more interesting - usually preserved by their environment, these bodies were not preserved for the purpose of exhibiting them. As such, they can generally give us the most honest picture of contemporary human beings.

Please note: the following article contains images of preserved dead bodies and the subject matter can get a bit macabre. Also Walt Disney isn't here - he wasn't frozen - it's a myth.

10. Lenin

lenin tomb
CC c/o. Larry Koester, Flickr

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (or Lenin as he preferred) was the man who spearheaded Bolshevism and was the first leader of the USSR. If you are suddenly taken by the desire to have a good old stare at the Russian revolutionary you can do so in Moscow's Red Square.

Considering Lenin's body has stayed intact for over 90 years it's interesting to note his corpse wasn't initially embalmed. At the time of his death/funeral/presentation in late January 1924, Russia was in full on Russian winter mode and the icy temperature naturally staved off any early decomposition.

The person, at least initially, responsible for the long term preservation of Lenin was Joseph 'sensitive to people's wishes' Stalin. Lenin himself wanted to be buried near his mother but Stalin's machinations relied on using Lenin's death to consolidate power.

Even Lenin's widow was against the idea of embalmment and made her views very clear, leading Stalin – during the funeral for her husband mind you – to threaten: “I can find another widow for Lenin immediately.” Classic Stalin.

Work has been done over the decades to preserve Lenin, eventually causing him to look more waxwork than human. In 2016 alone it cost the Russian government $200,000 for preservation work on the body.

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Wesley Cunningham-Burns hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.