- Researchers in Poland have discovered that an Egyptian Mummy that was thought to be male is actually a pregnant female.
- The coffin that held the mummy bore the name of a male priest.
- The mummy was first discovered in 1826 in Upper Egypt.
An Egyptian mummy that was believed for decades to be male was actually a pregnant female, researchers discovered.
According to a report published last month in The Journal of Archaeological Science, the discovery was the “only known case of an embalmed pregnant individual” in history.
Scientists who examined the mummy discovered that she was between 20 and 30 years old when she died, and pregnant with a 26 to 30 week-old fetus.
The researchers, led by Dr. Wojciech Ejsmond, an archaeologist and a director of the Warsaw Mummy Project, were overwhelmed with this discovery. Before the discovery, they had been studying more than 40 mummies at Poland’s National Museum, per the Times.
Reports reveal that the mummy was discovered in the royal tombs of Thebes, Upper Egypt. Reports also said the mummy was “wrapped in fabrics, and equipped with a rich set of amulets” when it was found.
According to the Times, the mummy was donated to the University of Warsaw in 1826 and was housed at the National Museum in Warsaw.
Radiological exams that were conducted centuries later led researchers to believe that the mummy was male, according to a report by the Times. Hieroglyphs on the coffin revealed the name of Hor-Djehuty, an Egyptian priest during that time.
In recent months, Ejsmond and his team were reexamining the mummy’s body and found something odd on her pelvic area, which turned out to be a fetus’ leg, according to the Times. Additional computer scans and x-rays were conducted to determine the age of the mummy and fetus’ at their time of death.
Scientists believe that the mummy lived in the 1st century BCE. However, they are unsure why she was in a male’s coffin.
Ejsmond told the Times that there have been cases of mismatched coffins in the past: “One can only speculate that the mummy was placed in a wrong coffin by accident in ancient times, or was put into a random coffin by antiquity dealers in the 19th century.”
The researchers are hoping that the discovery will lead to more research on the less-studied pregnancy and maternity practices in ancient times.
They also believe that the discovery gives insight into an unresearched aspect of the burial and pregnancy customs in ancient Egypt.