The body was uncovered in 1975 while renovations were being done on Basel's Barfüsser Church, which has been traditionally associated with the ancestral history of Boris Johnson’s family.
The mummy was unearthed for the first time in 1843. Back then, the scientists came to believe the woman was a member of a well-off Basel family, the Bischoffs, who Johnson himself alluded to when he told the BBC program Who Do You Think You Are? that they were "posh toffs."
Empowered with the most cutting-edge technologies, scientists managed to take DNA material from the mummy's big toe. A number of scientists working independently from each another arrived at the conclusion that the mummy’s DNA corresponds to that of living descendants of the Bischoff family, with a 99.8% probability.
The mummy was identified as Anna Catharina Bischoff, born in Basel in 1719. She died there in 1787, presumably from mercury poisoning. The mummy features some traces of the toxic element — a common treatment for syphilis in the 18th century.
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Researchers say she may have been exposed to the disease while at work, as she was nursing syphilitic patients in Strasbourg, where she lived for some time together with her husband, a church minister.
However plausible the evidence may be, the Twitterati were unable to contain themselves, many ironically noting that the news outlets were bad at simple mathematical counting:
"mummified Basel woman … the great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson." Tush BBC, do the maths: Not THE "great great great…etc." but just ONE of 256 g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmothers. https://t.co/yP7RXCo31v— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) 25 января 2018 г.
Others remarked, tongue-in-cheek that the mummy would have been depressed to wake up to the idea that she was a predecessor of Boris Johnson.
Imagine being mummified for thousands of years only to have the deep misfortune of being discovered as the relative of Boris Johnson https://t.co/QmvkontcDk— Belpo 🎨🍷💃 (@ragsoflove) 25 января 2018 г.
Others are indignant about such stories actually emerging. They say they are too far-fetched.
On Boris Johnson and the identification of one of his ancestors: she will be the ancestor of literally 1000s or millions in the UK as well, and he may well carry none of her DNA.— Dr Adam Rutherford (@AdamRutherford) 25 января 2018 г.
It's fun, trivial, y'know, bit of a shrug from me.