The gruesome specimen, now in a private collection, consists of a human head and shoulders with the top of the skull and brain removed. Rodent nibbles and insect larvae trails mar the face. The arteries are filled with a red “metal wax” compound that helped preserve the body.
The preparation of the specimen was surprisingly advanced. Radiocarbon dating puts the age of the body between A.D. 1200 and A.D.1280, an era once considered part of Europe’s anti-scientific “Dark Ages.” In fact, said study researcher Philippe Charlier, a physician and forensic scientist at University Hospital R. Poincare in France, the new specimen suggests surprising anatomical expertise during this time period.
“It’s state-of-the-art,” Charlier told LiveScience. “I suppose that the preparator did not do this just one time, but several times, to be so good at this.”
Story: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience | Photo: Archives of Medical Science