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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bremen. The Mummies We Missed. John Gimlette found.

Mummies Beneath Bremen Cathedral

The world needs travel series that includes more macabre.  More crypt finds, for example. Travel compilers, stop copying each other, and skip all that space on where to eat or sleep.  Wing that. In the newly freed pages, insert history, the odd.  For each specific recommendation on dining or sleeping, a traveler wastes valuable time finding it, passing fine alternatives on the way.  As to the odd bits, some travel guides do include some, too many do not.

Bremen.  In Bremen, I wished we had known of the Bremen Mummies. There apparently are some 8 mummies beneath the Cathedral, dating from 300 years ago.  And in what fine condition -- no botox, but fine hair, nails, teeth, and leathery-dark skin.  As with any mummy, sinews outlast the soft stuff, and as they shrink (rather than just decompose) they pull a face into surprised, shocked, shocked! expressions.  Tripadvisor shows a picture -- see

Read all this in the article by John Gimlette in the Financial Times.  I have the original clipping, and it is reproduced in a Financial Times 2012 travel-bests grouping at  Contributors were asked to submit their personal bests for that year:   My Best Discovery of 2012.

So:  who were the Mummies, when they were at home?

1.  1705:  a student who died in a duel
2.  1730:  The Chancellor of Bremen
3.  Year unk: a Laborer age 80\4.
4.  Year unk: a Swedish officer, in the wrong place at an exposion event
5.  Year unk:  A lady, known as Lady Stanhope

The rest? A soldier, and evidence of surgeries

Then, go under the Town Hall for the Ratskeller from 1409.  Wine. Lots of Wine. A flagon from 1653 will cost some $13,000, rough conversion.

How did we miss the mummies?  Consider accidents of timing.  We arrived during a fine rehearsal by an orchestra in the Cathedral itself, tiptoe, sit, enjoy, but hardly an environment for poking.

We did not seek out the crypt, as we normally would do. With a note in a travel book, we would have returned.