The Story Of The Doomed Franklin Expedition And The Mummified Body Of John Torrington Left Behind

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
October 21, 2023

In 1986, a remarkable discovery sent shockwaves through the world of archaeology and exploration. Deep within the unforgiving Arctic terrain, nestled in the frigid embrace of Canada’s Northwest Passage, lay the final resting place of Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition, lost for nearly 150 years.

The Franklin Expedition, consisting of two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, had set sail in 1845 with the ambitious goal of navigating the fabled Northwest Passage—a treacherous and elusive sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic archipelago. However, their voyage ended in tragedy as the ships became trapped in ice, and all 129 crew members perished in the harsh and unforgiving Arctic conditions.

Fast forward to 1986, and a team of explorers and archaeologists embarked on an expedition of their own, determined to unravel the mysteries of the Franklin Expedition. What they discovered was nothing short of astonishing—a trio of remarkably preserved mummies, including one identified as John Hartnell, a crew member of the ill-fated expedition.

The mummies, eerily resembling dolls in their preservation, were found in a state of near-perfect conservation due to the sub-zero temperatures and the protective layer of permafrost. John Hartnell’s remains provided invaluable insights into the harsh conditions and struggles faced by the Franklin Expedition crew. Analysis of his mummy revealed signs of malnutrition, lead poisoning, and other health issues, shedding light on the challenges they endured in their quest for the Northwest Passage.


The discovery of these mummies not only provided a poignant connection to a bygone era of exploration but also sparked renewed interest in the Franklin Expedition, inspiring further research and expeditions to uncover the full story of their tragic journey.

Today, John Hartnell and his companions remain frozen in time, a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the relentless pursuit of knowledge, even in the face of the harshest of environments. Their story continues to captivate and intrigue, a reminder of the enduring allure of exploration and the mysteries that still lie hidden in the far reaches of our planet.