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Selling ivory is not illegal, providing it is from an elephant that died before 1947.

But until now, proving the age of an item was notoriously difficult, relying on expert opinion.

When they returned to the mountain hut where they were staying, they alerted the authorities, who assumed the body was one of the missing climbers lost every year in the crevasses that crisscross the glaciers of the region.

Questions of her history first came up when Ryan Jefferies, curator for the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology at the University of Melbourne, began to worry that the mummified remains might be decaying from the inside.A Latin inscription on the lid proclaims: “Here is the heart of Richard, King of England”.Deville and others examined the contents of the reliquary, but until now the remains have never been subjected to a rigorous forensic analysis.His entrails were removed and stored in a coffin in Châlus, and his body was sent to Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou; but his heart was embalmed so that it would be preserved for the 500-kilometer journey to Notre Dame cathedral in Rouen, the base for English forces in Normandy at the time.During an excavation of the cathedral in 1838, local historian Achille Deville found the remains of the heart inside a lead reliquary roughly the size of a shoebox, now kept at the Museum of Natural History in Rouen.