Scientists discover the world's first pregnant Egyptian mummy

 

X-ray image of the pregnant mummy. The woman died between 20 and 30 years of age along with the fetus between weeks 26 and 30 of pregnancy, according to a study. Photo: AFP

An anthropologist suggested that the finding would have links to "beliefs about rebirth in the afterlife."

Polish scientists indicated this Thursday, April 29, that they discovered a pregnant Egyptian mummy - the first in this state in the world - when they carried out X-rays of her 2,000-year-old remains at the National Museum in Warsaw ( Poland ).

"My husband Stanislaw, an Egyptologist, and I, when examining the radiographic images, noticed in the uterus of the deceased woman a picture familiar to parents of three children: a little foot!" Said Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist and archaeologist from the University of Warsaw.

"We do not know why the fetus was not removed from the womb of the deceased during its mummification," said Wojciech Ejsmond of the Polish Academy of Sciences, who is also involved in the project.

“This mummy is really unique. We have not found similar cases. This means that 'our' mummy is the only one found in the world with a fetus (inside), ”said Ejsmond.

Ozarek-Szilke hypothesized that there was an intention to "hide the pregnancy (...) or, perhaps, this had some meaning linked to beliefs about rebirth in the afterlife".

According to the study of the hieroglyphs inscribed on the sarcophagus, at first it was considered that the mummy was that of a priest who lived between the 1st century BC. C. and the 1st century d. C.

Scientists, however, now believe that it could be even older and are trying to find out the possible cause of its death.

The mummy has not been opened, but one of the X-rays shows that the woman had long, curly hair that reached down to her shoulders.

This discovery was announced in the latest issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science , a peer-reviewed journal.

“It is the first known case of an embalmed body of a pregnant woman (...). This opens up new research possibilities on pregnancy in antiquity and the practices related to motherhood ”, it is commented in the article.

The mummy was brought to Poland in the 19th century and is part of the collection of antiquities at the University of Warsaw.



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