Archaeologists finally unravel the mystery of the 150-year-old baby skeleton with one mummified hand

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Researchers from the University of Szeged have analysed the mysterious hand and suggest that it underwent a unique form of mummification

In 2005, experts were baffled when they discovered a tiny, green, mummified hand alongside a range of other bones in Nyarlorinc, Hungary.

While the flesh on the hand was still fairly intact, the other bones had been stripped of their flesh, suggesting it had been partially mummified.

Now, researchers from the University of Szeged have analysed the mysterious hand and suggest that it underwent a unique form of mummification, according to a report by the New York Times .

Their analysis suggests that the tiny skeleton belonged to a premature or stillborn baby that had died shortly after birth.

And the green colour indicated that the baby had been in contact with some sort of metal.

A further analysis revealed that the baby had been buried with a copper coin in its hand – perhaps as a way of paying a mythical ferryman to take its soul into the afterlife.

The copper within the coin had protected the hand from delay, mummifying the baby’s grasp.

And other bones may have been stained green as the baby was buried in a crouching position, meaning the coin came into contact with other bones.

 

Strangely, the coin was found to be a Kreuzer, which wasn’t in circulation until 1858 – a time when it was thought that loved ones weren’t buried holding coins.

But the researchers suggest that the baby may have died before being baptised, and that its parents may have used the coin in the hopes of sending the child into the afterlife regardless.

Speaking to the New York Times, Dr Zsolt Bereczki, who worked on the study, said: “They kind of succeeded at saving not necessarily the soul, but some kind of legacy of this little kid, because here we are still talking about the baby and the circumstances of its burial 150 years later.”

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