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20.10.2021– 13.3.2022

Family Tree of Anna Catharina Bischoff

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Three years ago an international research group led by Natural History Museum Basel managed to identify a previously nameless mummy as Anna Catharina Bischoff, who died in 1787. The book recently published by Christoph Merian Verlag ''Anna Catharina Bischoff. Die Mumie aus der Barfüsserkirche' gives a fascinating account of this exciting interdisciplinary search for clues about Switzerland’s best preserved mummy. To mark the book’s publication, the original mummy will be available for museum visitors to see for a short time.

A team of scientists and arts scholars, as well as citizen scientists, studied Switzerland’s best preserved mummy in a project that lasted for years. It was eventually possible to decipher the identity of the 'Lady of Barfüsser Church'. She is Anna Catharina Bischoff, born in Strasbourg in 1719, daughter of a Basel pastor, later a pastor’s wife and mother of seven. She spent the autumn of her life – very likely suffering from syphilis – in her home town of Basel, where she was treated for her illness.

The book portrays the almost forensic work of the interdisciplinary research team. It gives surprising insights into the fate of a woman in the 18th century and into everyday life in Basel and Strasbourg at that time. The search for the ancestors of Anna Catharina Bischoff also revealed something astonishing: It led through diplomats, revolutionaries and poets’ wives to the current UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

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