A pregnant mummy has been found in Egypt for the first time. Archaeologists scanned the woman’s bones and were astounded to discover that she was six months pregnant when she died about 2,000 years ago, making her the world’s first confirmed pregnant mummy.
The woman was between 20 and 30 years old when she died, according to X-ray and CT scans done as part of the Warsaw Mummy Project, and she was between 26 and 28 weeks pregnant, based on analysis of the fetus’ brain. In reality, researchers remarked on how well preserved her remains were.
She may have been a member of an elite family in the ancient city of Thebes, based on the way she was mummified – closely bundled in nice fabrics and amulets buried with her – but her identity has yet to be proven. The manner in which the woman died is still unknown.
The mummy was originally believed to be a male priest, which was surprising. The inscription on the coffin when it arrived in Warsaw, Poland, in 1826 appointed a male priest, and experts had no cause to doubt it until recently.
Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist and archeologist, explained the team’s surprise when they learned it was a girl in an interview with The Associated Press. “Our first surprise was that it lacked a penis and instead had breasts and long hair, and then we discovered it was a pregnant woman,” says the author. “We were surprised when we saw the little foot and then the little hand (of the fetus).” The results of their investigation were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
While skeletal remains of pregnant women have been discovered in the past, none of them had their soft tissues preserved as well as this one. Here are few photos of the expecting mother.
In other reports, archaeologists found 110 ancient Egyptian tombs at a site named Koum el-Khulgan along the Nile Delta. Seventy-three tombs have been dated between 5,500 and 5,000 years old, with all of them oval-shaped and featuring people who were buried squatting with their heads faced westwards. A baby’s skeleton was found inside a pot in one of the oval-shaped tombs. A bowl with geometric designs was discovered in a slew of pottery vessels.
The remaining 37 tombs date from 3,660 to 3,560 years ago. They were rectangular in shape, and the people were arranged with their heads facing west as well. In a rectangular crypt, another jar of baby remains was discovered. Silver rings and a seal stone with a hieroglyphic inscription were among the other objects found.
Additional artifacts were discovered at the site, including the remnants of brick houses and ovens, as well as amulets made of semi-precious stones, such as a scarab. Excavations are also in progress. (You can see photos of some of the tombs and artifacts here.)