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In 1647, construction workers carrying out repairs on the Church of Saint Andrew in the small city of Venzone, in the province of Udine, Italy, accidentally broke open a tomb in the churchyard. Inside was found the perfectly dried body of a man who appeared to be of average height and possibly rotund during his living days. His body had now shrunk to only 33 pounds, or about 15 kg. But curiously, it hadn’t decomposed.

Over the next four centuries up to present times, a total of 42 bodies have been dug up from the tombs in the churchyard. All the bodies had undergone spontaneous mummification a short time after they were buried. Their skins have turned yellow-brown and look like tanned leather. The muscles, including the heart, have been reduced to thin membranes, while internal organs such as kidneys and pancreas have disappeared. The brain is one-third of its volume. These mummies weigh anywhere between 22 and 44 pounds, and although greatly altered, the forms and features of the bodies are well preserved and entirely recognizable.

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