In the 1970s, a mummified corpse was discovered. Treatment for syphilis likely killed the woman in 1787, nearly 200 years earlier. Though most other details about her life remained a secret, scientists have recently run tests and uncovered a surprising fact: she is actually the great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Breaking: the mummified corpse of a woman who died of syphilis in 1787 & whose body has lain unidentified since it was discovered in a Swiss church 43 years ago has been named as Boris Johnson’s X6 great grand mother.— James Landale (@BBCJLandale) January 25, 2018
Her backstory is quite fascinating, in a postmortem sort of way.
Anna Catherina Bischoff was a Lutheran pastor’s wife from Basel whose daughter married into the German aristocratic Von Pfeffel family from whom the Foreign Secretary is descended.— James Landale (@BBCJLandale) January 25, 2018
Her body tissue was preserved because it contained high levels of mercury which was used to treat syphilis in those days and probably caused her death because it is so toxic.— James Landale (@BBCJLandale) January 25, 2018
The mystery of the mummy's identity is no longer a mystery!
Scientists say Mr Johnson’s ancestor had gallstones, poor teeth & and a bent spine and probably caught syphilis while caring for the sick and the poor with her husband.— James Landale (@BBCJLandale) January 25, 2018
The mysterious “Lady of Barfusser church” has remained unidentified since she was discovered during building work in 1975. But new techniques enabled experts to confirm her identity by comparing her DNA with living descendants.— James Landale (@BBCJLandale) January 25, 2018
The revelations come in a documentary to be shown on Swiss TV tonight based on work carried out by an international research group supervised by the natural history museum in Basel.— James Landale (@BBCJLandale) January 25, 2018
Johnson responded with good humor:
Twitter users were taken aback by this strange news:
Family photos are adorable!
Before we get too excited, it's important to remember that along with all those "greats" comes a lot of chances for the family tree to branch out. Boris Johnson shares his relation to this mummy with thousands of others.
Geneaology + archaeology = a classic good time!