Iron Coffin Mummy on PBS

Iron Coffin Mummy is dedicated to the study of Fisk Metallic Burial Cases and their mummified occupants.

The information on this site is a compilation of firsthand forensic and historical archaeology, genealogy, epidemiology and archival research focusing on the discovery, identification, and research into the lives of three ordinary people who died in the early 1850s and were buried in elaborate cast-iron coffins that naturally mummified their bodies. The stories of the lives, deaths, and times of the Iron Coffin Mummies are revealed through the work of a diverse team of experts.

Two of the individuals; Mary Camp Roberts (1764-1852) and Captain William Pollard (1816-1854), were discovered in 2005 during the archaeological excavation of the site of the Prudential Center Hockey Arena in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Their coffins were opened and their remains were analyzed at the Smithsonian Institute in 2009. The third individual, tentatively identified as Martha Peterson, (1824-ca. 1851) was discovered in 2011 as part of what was originally thought to be a potential crime scene and was studied by a diverse team of experts between 2011 and 2016. In addition to the mummies, the lives of the coffin inventor Almond Dunbar Fisk and his business partners will be explored, as will some of the important events and famous people that shaped the lives and times of the iron coffin mummies.

The Iron Coffin Mummies

Facial Reconstructions by Joe Mullins. Facial Reconstruction photos by Emily Mullins

In the News

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Scott Warnasch asnj bulletin

Archaeological Society of New Jersey’s Bulletin

I’m excited to announce that my article on the early iron coffin industry has been published in the Archaeological Society of New Jersey’s Bulletin. Please contact me if you would like a copy, or go to to get a copy of the entire journal.  ABSTRACT Fisk’s airtight, metallic burial cases were created in response […]

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New York Times: This Empty Lot Is Worth Millions. It’s Also an African-American Burial Ground.

Article by Kaya Laterman The flier advertising a near-one-acre plot of land for sale in Elmhurst, Queens, looks like a typical real estate listing. The oddly-shaped parcel that abuts the Long Island Rail Road tracks is available for $13.8 million. According to the flier, the lot is a great opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for residential space […]

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Mysteries at the Museum Episode IRON MAIDEN Featuring Martha Peterson

On the Travel Channel: Don Wildman investigates a gangster’s sinister plot to cheat death, two enemy pilots brought together by honor, and a curious corpse found in a metal coffin. Learn more:

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Documentary Viewing at William Paterson University

It was a pleasure to present my research at my undergrad school so many decades later.

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Iron Coffin Mummies - speaking engagement Nov 2018

University of Indianapolis Lecture Series | Nov 16, 2018s

AMERICAN MUMMIES: THE INDUSTRIAL BIRTH OF THE ETERNAL DEAD November 16 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, Lilly Performance Hall University of Indianapolis University Lecture Series: Scott Warnasch You are invited to the University of Indianapolis for this fascinating lecture as Forensic Archaeologist Scott Warnasch discusses his most recent episode of “Secrets of the Dead – The […]

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iron coffin mummy on pbs w scott warnash

Full Show Now Streaming! PBS Secrets of the Dead episode “Woman in the Iron Coffin”

US | Full Length Episode View on the PBS website UK | Full Length Episode View on the TPT/PBS website

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iron mummy coffin documentary pbs

Secrets of the Dead episode the Woman in the iron Coffin

Now available for streaming to PBS ‘Passport’ members:
In the US | In the UK

Learn More. | Watch Trailer