Mummy remains reveal “sophisticated” embalming techniques a thousand years older than previously thought

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The new discovery of “sophisticated” mummification techniques said to be a thousand years older than previously thought could lead to a rewrite of the history books.

The discovery was made by analyzing the preserved body of high-ranking nobleman Khuwy [source: Getty]

The ancient Egyptians were applying “sophisticated” mummification techniques a thousand years earlier than expected, new evidence shows.

An analysis of one of the oldest mummies ever discovered has proven that the techniques of embalming the dead in fine linen and high-quality resin existed around 4,000 years ago – much earlier than previously known. previously believed.

This discovery, based on the preserved body of a high-ranking nobleman called Khuwy found in 2019, shocked Egyptologists and potentially explodes current timelines on ancient civilizations.

“If it is indeed an Old Kingdom mummy, all books on mummification and the history of the Old Kingdom will need to be revised,” said Professor Salima Ikram, head of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo in the Sunday newspaper on Observer.

“This would completely disrupt our understanding of the evolution of mummification. The materials used, their origins, and the trade routes associated with them will have a huge impact on our understanding of Old Kingdom Egypt.”

The Old Kingdom of Egypt is the period from 2700 to 2200 BC, known as the “Age of the Pyramids”. It is the first of the three “golden ages” of ancient Egypt.

Prior to this discovery, early period mummification techniques were believed to be relatively straightforward, involving basic desiccation, no brain removal, and only occasional removal of internal organs. The use of resins was considered to be much more limited in the Old Kingdom.

However, Professor Ikram said Khuwy’s body was “awash in resins and textiles and gives a completely different impression of mummification.” In fact, it looks more like mummies found 1000 years later ”.

The discovery was made while filming the National Geographic documentary series Lost treasures of Egypt, who follows archaeologists in their excavation projects.

The discovery of Khuwy’s mummified body at Saqqara in Giza was televised in a previous season. The investigation into his dating and analysis takes place in the new season.

Hieroglyphics have revealed that the tomb belonged to Khuwy, who lived during the time of the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. However, it was only through further investigation that mummification techniques were also attributed to this period.

Mummification, a process that has become emblematic of ancient Egyptian civilizations, involves preserving the body after death by deliberately drying or embalming the flesh. It is intended to preserve the body for the hereafter.

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