Mummified Swiss woman is related to … Boris Johnson

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Scientists in the Swiss city of Basel have solved a decades-old mystery over the identity of a mummified woman.

Boris Johnson had yet to comment on his rediscovered great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. The mummy was found in front of the altar, well-fed and wearing quality clothes, confirming for scientists that she came from a wealthy background.

It was well preserved due to a high level of mercury in the remains, often a sign that someone had been treated for syphilis.

Her body was discovered in 1975 during renovation work on Basel's Barfusser Church.

It was not until a year ago that scientists extracted DNA from the woman's big toe, and compared it to samples of DNA taken from living members of the Bischoff family, subsequently identifying her as Anna Catharina Bischoff.

Anna Bischoff is believed to have died of mercury poisoning, a common treatment for syphilis in her time.

The link to Johnson was established after researchers traced Anna Bischoff's family tree using DNA extracted from her corpse.

Barfuesser mummy
Mummified Swiss woman is related to … Boris Johnson

Basel's Natural History Museum said Thursday that by matching DNA extracted from the mummy's toe with a living descendant, its experts led an global team that identified the woman as Anna Catharina Bischoff, a member of a prominent Basel family who died in 1787 at the age of 68.

That revealed, with 99.8% certainty, that the descendants and the mummy were all from the same maternal line.

Now the scientists and the historians were sure: the mummy was none other than Anna Catharina Bischoff.

Anna Catharina was born in Basel in 1719 and spent most of her adult life in the French city of Strasbourg. One of them - a daughter also named Anna - married Christian Hubert Baron Pfeffel von Kriegelstein. There, it is believed, she may have contracted syphilis while caring for patients with the sexually transmitted disease.

He previously told the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? that he was a "product of many countries" and described his von Pfeffel ancestors as "posh toffs".

On the death of her husband she returned to her home town of Basel, and apparently underwent rigorous mercury treatment in the hope of a cure.

It may not have worked, but the mercury did help to preserve her body until now.

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