Surprise! 1,000-Year-Old Mummy Found in Buddha Statue

Scientists found something strange inside of an ancient Buddha statue — the mummified remains of a monk. The statue was subjected to CT scans in December at Meander Medical Center in Amsterdam. Researchers determined that the monk went through self-mummification, a process that involves being buried alive inside of a chamber while meditating.

Buddha Mummy
The statue next to a CT reconstruction created by the German-Mummy-Project at the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen. Drents Museum/German-Mummy-Project

"The object is a rarity," Wilfried Rosendahl, head of the German-Mummy-Project at the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, Germany, told NBC News via email. Nothing like it has been studied in Europe before, he said. The CT scans revealed that the mummy was a man, between 30 to 50 years old, who was mummified and probably kept in a monastery for 200 years before he was covered by paper and enamel to make a statue. Rosendahl and a team of researchers determined that the mummy dates back to around the year 900 to 1,000. The statue was originally discovered in China and can currently be seen at the Natural History Museum in Budapest.

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— Keith Wagstaff