May 16, 2016

Tiny, tiny mummy

Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 7:22 pm

Mummified body of miscarried baby found in tiny Egyptian coffin

The tiny body of a miscarried baby, dating back more than 2,000 years, has been discovered hidden in a tiny Egyptian sarcophagus, no bigger than a shoe-box.

The care with which the foetus was mummified and interred in the miniature coffin – with its arms crossed protectively over its chest – betrays the devastation felt by its parents, who took great pains to ensure its journey to the afterlife.

Egyptologists at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge made the discovery after scanning the coffin using modern imaging techniques for the upcoming exhibition Death on the Nile: Uncovering the Afterlife of ancient Egypt.

I kinda bleeped over this earlier, but I decided it’s interesting. They didn’t say who it may have belonged to though, but one would suspect a royal, due to the crossed arms and the care of the body.

January 18, 2016

Bodies, bodies, everywhere!

Filed under: Forensic archaeology, Mummies — acagle @ 8:25 pm


Abstract: The total number of individuals in this series is nine. This includes: three adults, one adolescent, two children and three infants. Two of the adults have some muscle tissue but no internal organs while the third adult has some desiccated organs present. The adolescent has some soft tissue and with vestiges of a perineum. All three infants have essentially all soft tissue and organs. One female has displacement of the pubic symphysis and pitting of the preauricular sulcus consistent with childbirth. This individual also revealed perimortem fractures of the ilia near the sacroiliac joints. Seven out of nine individuals show clear evidence of strangulation.

There’s a bit more to the abstract. There’s not a lot of information on the context, however, so we don’t really know if this is in some sort of religious area or what. But, you know, not a happy time.

Sacred? Kill it.

Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 8:23 pm

Scanning Sobek
mummy of the crocodile god

The ancient Egyptians believed this mummy was incarnation of the crocodile god Sobek. Nearly 4 metres long, it is coated with resin and has over 25 mummified crocodile hatchlings attached to its back. This display uses state-of-the-art CT scans to reveal this creature’s hidden secrets. Other objects show how Sobek was represented both as a crocodile and as a man with a crocodile’s head.

It’s a neat little interactive CT scan that you can get closeups of. A bit limited but still pretty neat-o. And remember, when they say “sacred” they don’t necessarily mean “treated with kindness”. If you were a “sacred” animal in Egypt, most often it meant being raised in the hundreds if not thousands (if not millions) just to be summarily killed and used as a sacrificial offering.

May 23, 2015

“The ghost world — that’s a very, very real thing to them,”

Filed under: Mummies — acagle @ 4:29 pm

Smoked Mummy Helps Villagers Connect with ‘Ghost World’

Here’s how the villagers mummified loved ones: First, they scraped the bodies with a bristly plant, before placing it in a hut filled with smoke for 30 days. A bamboo pipe served as an anal spigot to evacuate the gut contents, and bodily fluids leached out of tiny holes poked in the hands and feet that were massaged by villagers. [Image Gallery: Mummy Evisceration Techniques]

Finally, villagers slathered the bodies with ocher, a claylike form of iron oxide, which further wicked moisture from the body and created a capsule to protect the mummifying remains from the elements.

It’s really just a form of drying the mummy out under extremely low heat and allowing whatever putrefaction occurs in the internal cavity to pass out through the butt pipe. You can’t just “cook” it because that process will retain some of the moisture, hence, the lengthy period. But in a moist environment things will eventually start to rehydrate and decompose, although slowly.

May 12, 2015

Not exactly news. . . . .

Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 6:57 pm

70 Million Mummified Animals in Egypt Reveal Dark Secret of Ancient Mummy Industry

In what is described as Egypt’s “dark secret,” a staggering 70 million mummified animals have been found in underground catacombs across Egypt, including cats, birds, rodents, and even crocodiles. But surprises awaited a research team when they scanned the animal-shaped mummies and found many of them empty!
A team of radiographers and Egyptologists from University of Manchester have used the latest medical imaging technology to scan hundreds of elaborately-prepared animal mummies which were collected from over thirty sites across Egypt during the 19th and 20th centuries, reports BBC News.

It’s commerce, baby. Lots of “animal mummies” were sold for offerings to pilgrims outside of the temples, so in order to maximize profit why bother with making actual mummies of actual animals when you can just put some bones in some wrapping and form it to look like the critter inside?

One other thing to remember is that to Egyptians “sacred” can mean something other than what we think it means. We would think of something ’sacred’ as something one wouldn’t harm, whereas certain ’sacred’ animals would be sacrifixed in the thousands as offerings.

March 9, 2015


Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 7:08 pm

Archaeologists find ancient tomb of temple guard in Egypt’s Luxor

An ancient tomb belonging to Amenhotep, guard of the temple of Egyptian deity Amun, has been discovered in the southern city of Luxor, the Egypt’s antiquities ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said the tomb probably dates to the New Kingdom’s 18th Dynasty (1543–1292 BC).

Photographs distributed by the ministry show a tomb with bright green and brown paintings with hieroglyphics.

Eye candy for the ladies: Artist’s conception of what Amenhotep may have looked like:
Desert Fox

March 3, 2015

Well, okay then.

Filed under: Mummies — acagle @ 7:55 pm

Great Gouda! World’s oldest cheese found – on mummies

Vintage Gouda may be aged for five years, some cheddar for a decade. They’re both under-ripe youngsters compared with yellowish clumps – found on the necks and chests of Chinese mummies – now revealed to be the world’s oldest cheese.

The Chinese cheese dates back as early as 1615 BC, making it by far the most ancient ever discovered. Thanks to the quick decay of most dairy products, there isn’t even a runner-up. The world’s best-aged cheese seems to be a lactose-free variety that was quick and convenient to make and may have played a role in the spread of herding and dairying across Asia.

There’s a couple of interesting items in there, namely on the method for producing the cheese. I may have had that kefir cheese in Egypt once, although I may be projecting. But the preservation looks to be superb.

February 26, 2015

Okay, that’s kinda creepy

Filed under: Mummies — acagle @ 8:12 pm

Desert Fox

Mummified Monk Sits Inside Ancient Buddha Statue
Researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands made a shocking discovery when they imaged an ancient Chinese statue and found a nearly 1,000-year-old mummy inside.

Sitting in the lotus position, the mummy fits within the statue perfectly.

“On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha,” the museum said in a release. “Scan research has shown that on the inside, it is the mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100.”

They go into this whole “self-mummification” thing which is a bit dubious to me. His organs were removed so it had to be an outside job, so to speak.

January 28, 2015

More virtues of waiting?

Filed under: Egypt, Mummies — acagle @ 7:51 pm

Oldest known gospel retrieved from mummy mask, researchers claim

While the rich and royal members of ancient Egyptian society were buried in mummy masks of flaked gold and other precious metals, common people were forced to construct theirs with recycled pieces of paper. Recently, archaeologists found what they believe to be the world’s oldest piece of scripture in the mask of mummy from the first century.

Researchers say the new scrap of spiritual papyrus is a portion of the the Gospel of Mark, the second chapter of the New Testament. The gospel scroll fragment dates to approximately 90 AD. Scientists were able to zero in on the paper’s age by analyzing handwriting, comparing it to the other texts found in the mask, and (most convincingly) via carbon dating.

I dunno, it’s a neat thing to do, but they do end up destroying the masks themselves in the process even though the constituent components — the pieces of paper — are preserved and read.

December 13, 2014

Public health in ancient. . .everywhere

Filed under: Mummies, Public Health — acagle @ 9:04 pm

Heart Attack of the Mummies

Recently, a multidisciplinary team of researchers, co-led by Thomas, examined CT scans of mummies from all over the world—from ancient Egyptians to pre-Columbian Peruvians to nineteenth-century Aleutian Islanders—and found widespread incidence of calcified arteries. They published their results in a series of papers in the journal Global Heart. One study, comparing scans of 76 ancient Egyptian mummies and 178 present-day Egyptians, found similar rates and severity of calcification after adjusting for age. These results are forcing experts to reconsider the long-held assumption that atherosclerosis is caused by uniquely modern habits: lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet, and smoking.

I need to go through those papers. It doesn’t surprise me at all since I don’t really believe that diet has much impact on such things; mainly because epidemiology is a very weak science and there tends to be a lot of groupthink going on, often for decades. I just downloaded several of them, and they may be open access; just search on the journal web site for ‘mummy’ or something and see if you can get to it.

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