World’s first pregnant Egyptian mummy uncovered in Warsaw

By MARZANNA ROBINSON

The woman was between 20 and 30 years old and 28 weeks into her pregnancy when she died, according to a study on the findings.

New research has revealed that the woman in the bandages was pregnant.
Warsaw Mummy Project/Facebook

She’s thought to have been a member of the elite of the ancient city of Thebes, where her remains are said to have been found in the Royal Tombs.

Her body was carefully mummified, wrapped in fabrics, and equipped with a rich set of amulets.

The mummy was at first believed to be the body of the priest Hor-Djehuti until it was found the mummy didn’t have male genitals.  Jacek Turczyk/PAPOtwock,

The remains were scanned as part of the Warsaw Mummy Project, which aims to investigate what is hidden under the bandages of mummies.

Launched in 2015, the undertaking is part of a campaign to identify the sex, age and cause of death of mummies housed in museums.

It was initially thought that the mummy was a man. Warsaw Mummy Project/Facebook

Upon performing X-ray and CT scans of the Thebes mummy, scientists were surprised to find the remains of a foetus in her abdomen.

Measurements of the child’s head suggest it was between 26 and 30 weeks old when the woman died.

Scientists have carried out X-ray scans of an Ancient Egyptian mummy (right) found in the city of Thebes. Pictured left is the mummy’s sarcophagus
Credit: journal of archaeological science

It’s the first known case of a pregnant embalmed body, researchers wrote in their study published Wednesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Previous research on the mummy, which was unearthed in the early 1800s, has dated it to the first century BC.

Abdominal area of the mummy with amulets representing the Four Sons of Horus above the navel area
Credit: journal of archaeological science

That means the woman lived close to the time of the famous Queen Cleopatra, when Ancient Egypt and the city of Thebes were thriving.

Researchers believe the woman was someone of importance as her body was tightly wrapped in quality fabrics.

The head of the mummy (left) and and CT scans of her upper body (right)
Credit: journal of archaeological science

It’s possible that many pregnant mummies were buried by the Ancient Egyptians.

However, until now none had been discovered as technology that can peer beneath their wrapping and into their innards is still relatively new.

The circumstances surrounding the woman’s death remain a mystery.

The study authors are also unsure why the foetus wasn’t extracted and mummified on its own, as was the case with other stillborn children.

The scans revealed that the woman was pregnant when she died. Pictured are abdominal scans of her remains, with the foetus highlighted in colour in the bottom panels Credit: journal of archaeological science

“It may have been thought to be still an integral part of the body of its mother, since it was not yet born,” they wrote.

More work is needed to establish why the foetus was mummified inside its mother, according to the team.

They’re yet to uncover the identity of the woman, and cannot confirm that she was indeed buried in the Royal Tombs of Thebes.

What do you think of the mummy discovery? Let us know in the comments…

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