Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Warrior King’s Heart Analyzed

Friday, March 01, 2013

(Adam Bishop)GARCHES, FRANCE—Philippe Charlier of Raymond Poincaré University Hospital and his team have analyzed a small sample of the powdered remains of Richard the Lionhearted. The iconic English king died in France in 1199 from a crossbow wound. His entrails were placed in a coffin, which stayed in Châlus, where he died. His body was sent to an abbey in Anjou, and his heart was sent to Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen, where it was discovered in 1838 in a lead box. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the king’s heart had been embalmed for the journey with myrtle and mint. Pollen from poplar and bellflower, in bloom at the time of his death, was also identified. Calcium, found during elemental analysis, indicates that lime was used as a preservative, in addition to creosote and frankincense, which were identified with mass spectrometry. “It proves that embalming of Christians did happen,” commented Stephen Buckley of the University of York.