For centuries, the crypt of one of the oldest aristocratic families in Austria has preserved a tragic secret. A boy, perhaps no older than a year or two in age, who died not from a lack of food, or injury. But for a simple want of sunlight on his skin.

The male child was found mummified in a family crypt reserved for the Counts of Starhemberg, having been interred there somewhere between the middle of the 16th and 17th centuries. His tiny features are withered but detailed, his body still wrapped in an elaborate silk garment.

Yet, in spite of living a life of privilege, his short existence was clearly not a healthy one.

A virtual autopsy of the corpse using CT scans has revealed malformations to the ribs that resemble classical signs of malnutrition, specifically vitamin D deficiency. Known as rickets, this condition tends to result in a bowing of the legs, a feature that wasn’t evident in the boy’s bones.

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