The youngest mummified fetus was discovered by the researchers at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. The tiny coffin in which the fetus lies was excavated in 1907 at Giza, but its content was only just determined. It is the youngest example of an Egyptian human fetus to have been embalmed and buried.
This remarkable discovery shows the importance that the ancient Egyptians placed on official burial rituals. Even for those who lost their lives early in their existence. The coffin is believed to date around the years 664-525 BC, and it is a miniature version of the coffins in the “Late Period” of Egypt. It is made of decorated cedar wood and measures 44 centimeters in length. The fetus was bound in bandages, and molten black resin was then poured over it before the coffin was closed.
For a long period of time, it was thought that the insides of the coffin contained internal organs that were removed during the process of embalming.
Using X-ray imaging, the scientists at Fitzwilliam Museum saw evidence that the organs were actually a small skeleton. They then decided to micro-CT scan the wrapping at the Department of Zoology of the Cambridge University. The images gave the first real evidence of a tiny body inside the wrappings. The ten digits on the hands and the long bones of the arms and legs were visible. From the scan, it was visible that the fetus had its arms crossed over the chest. The soft skull and the pelvis are collapsed, but there is no doubt that it is a human fetus.
The fetus was no more than 18 weeks into gestation. The gender remains unknown, and it is thought that it was the result of a miscarriage. No obvious abnormalities were found.
The care taken during the burial formalities show the great value placed on life by the people of ancient Egypt, even in the case of unborn children. Tutankhamun’s tomb, for example, contained two fetuses, but they had died after 25 and 37 weeks of gestation. Curators at the Fitzwilliam Museum claim that they have discovered the youngest mummified human body from ancient Egypt.
For those who want to see the youngest mummified fetus, the coffin is on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge in England until 22nd of May.
IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia