A team of Polish scientists recently discovered the first embalmed Egyptian pregnant mummy.
- This is the first time in the history scientists have found a foetus in a mummy.
- Initially the researchers thought the Mummy was a male priest.
- The 2000 year old mummy was brought to Warsaw in 1826 and the inscription on the coffin named a male priest.
- No previous examination had disproved the belief that it was a male.
- The identification was made under the “Warsaw Mummy Project” by the anthropologists and archaeologists at the National Museum in Warsaw.
- The study highlighted that this was the first known case of a pregnant embalmed body and that it opened up new possibilities of research related to pregnancy in ancient times as well as practices related to maternity.
- The study was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
About the Mummy:
- This Mummy was found at the Royal Tombs in Thebes.
- Note: Thebes is an ancient Egyptian city along the Nile river.
- Based on an analysis of the hieroglyphs on the sarcophagus, the mummy was originally thought to be of a male priest who lived between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD.
- The Mummy dubbed as the “Mysterious Lady of the National Museum in Warsaw” is estimated by the researchers to be between 20 and 30 years old and said the size of the baby’s skull suggested she was 26 to 28 weeks pregnant.
- The scientists confirmed that the embalmed woman was pregnant when they saw the little foot and little hand.
- Usually, the mummification process includes removing the organs from the abdomen and chest. They are still wondering why the foetus wasn’t removed.
- One possibility is that it was difficult to remove the foetus from the womb without causing serious damage.
Warsaw Mummy Project:
- Warsaw Mummy Project was initiated by a group of archaeologists bio-archaeologists from the University of Warsaw in 2015.
- The project aims to thoroughly examine human and animal mummies from ancient Egypt at the National Museum in Warsaw.
- Under the project, the scientists are using X-ray, CT-scan, podoscopy and dactyloscopy to analyse the mummification methods and the state of tissue preservation.
- These advanced techniques helped in discovering the first pregnant mummy though she was unearthed a century ago.
What is Podoscopy and Dactyloscopy?
- Podoscopy is footprint examination while Dactyloscopy is fingerprint examination.