Researchers were working on the first-known pregnant mummy initially thought that it was a male priest. But what the scientists found out was surprising.
Worlds first know pregnant mummy is a female not male
According to the scientists involved in the study, they found a mummy from the first century. Discovering the ancient coffin (sarcophagus), with writing symbols on it, giving the impression that it was a priest entombed inside, said the study, reported by Live Science.
The lead scientist Wojciech Ejsmond, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project, remarked, "We were searching for ancient diseases or causes of death," says the researcher. He added, "We also assumed it was the body of a priest." Finding the first-known pregnant mummy is something unexpected.
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Records say that the mummy was donated to the University of Warsaw in Poland in 1826, but it stayed under a lock and key for 155 years. Recently, archeologists working with the Warsaw Mummy Project began an investigation to verify the condition of the mummy. It is found in the Warsaw museum's collection of animal and human mummies.
Discovering an anomaly in ancient Egypt
Scientists began X-ray and CT scans to check the coffin and its contents, which reveal something that has been hidden since 1826. They concluded that the remains were female, matching the coffin and cartonnage case for a male.
Until this examination, the mummy inside was not the priest named Hor-Djehuty from ancient Thebes; his name was carved on the coffin.
After all the data from the X-rays and CT scans, researchers say it was a pregnant female inside the coffin. It is estimated that the ancient mummy's age at death is from 20 to 30 years old. One more surprise is she was pregnant from 6.5 to 7.5 months as seen in the size of the fetus's head.
Most of the scans show four mummified bundles assumed to lungs, liver, stomach, intestines and her heart. All organs were taken out, embalmed, and were later replaced in the cavity of the mummy, but not with the fetus kept in the body and the uterus.
Why did the fetus stay untouched?
Scientists think having the fetus still inside the uterus is considered a sacred part and cannot be embalmed like other organs. Having the child stillborn means its cannot be apart from its mother. When their mother died carrying the fetus, they will enter the afterlife together.
Still, why the woman was inside a male priest's coffin is a mystery. Some think that about 10% of mummies are not in a suitable coffin. Another idea is the pregnant female was robbed, and out into Hor-Djehuty sarcophagus, one indicator is the torn wrapping on her neck.
The mummy is now called the "Mysterious Lady of the National Museum in Warsaw" where she was preserved as a person of social standing. She was also buried along with precious amulets.
One more test is to take blood samples to know the cause of death, but during that time, it was common to die during childbirth, said Ejsmond. How the first-known pregnant mummy got there is not sure, but it still an big discovery.