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Mellified Monsters

“…in the lands of the Arabs, there are men 70 or 80 years old who are willing to give their bodies to save others. Such a one takes no more food or drink, only bathing and eating a little honey, till after a month his excreta are nothing but honey; then death ensues. His compatriots place the body to macerate in a stone coffin full of honey, with an inscription giving the year and month of burial. After a hundred years, the seals are removed and the confection so formed used for the treatment of wounds and fractures of the body and limbs—only a small amount taken internally is needed for the cure.”

—Li Shizhen, Bencao Gangmu, 1596

Mellified Men

In ancient times, people nearing the end of their life, wishing to provide for their families and community, would begin the process to become a mellified man. They would foreswear all food but honey, and begin to ritually purify their mind and body. Oftentimes aided by others, cists were prepared for their body, and upon death, they’d be laid to rest within the stone coffin, which was then filled with honey and sealed. The month and year of the death would be chiseled into one side.

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