Swiss mummy identified as ancestor of Boris Johnson

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A decades-old mystery involving the identity of a mummified woman in Switzerland has been solved, unearthing a surprise twist - she's reportedly a relative of Boris Johnson.

Archaeologists said the woman had been buried in front of the altar and test showed she had been well-fed and wore good quality clothes.

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

The BBC reports that the body was uncovered in 1975 while renovations were being carried out on the city's Barfüsser Church.

However, the identity of the woman within seemed lost to history until recently discovered archives revealed that the mummy had actually been unearthed before, in 1843.

After 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.

Johnson has not publicly commented on the new certainty about his heritage, and it is unclear if his DNA was used to discover matches with that found on the mummy's big toe.

Barfuesser mummy
Swiss mummy identified as ancestor of 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.

Scientists believe Anna Catharina probably died from mercury poisoning but the metal also preserved her body, allowing the researchers to find out who she was and who her descendants are.

DNA samples from the mummy were compared with living descendants of the family to reveal the conclusive result.

The research confirmed the woman was Anna Catharina.

Her daughter, also named Anna, married into the Von Pfeffel family, whose heritage is evident in the Foreign Secretary's full name: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Born in Basel in 1719, she spent most of her life in the French city of Strasbourg. It's there, while caring for patients with syphilis, that it's believed she contracted the sexually transmitted disease.

Once her identity had been established, genealogists set to work tracing her family tree, which they found stretched as far afield as the US.

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