An uncommon mud-wrapped mummy is main archaeologists to rethink how nonroyal Egyptians preserved their lifeless.
CT scans of an Egyptian mummy from round 1,200 B.C. reveal that the physique is sheathed in a mud shell between its layers of linen wrappings. Historical Egyptians might have used this preservation approach, by no means earlier than seen in Egyptian archaeology, to restore injury to the mummified physique and mimic royal burial customs, researchers report February three in PLOS ONE.
Whereas the mother’s legs are caked with mud about 2.5 centimeters thick, the mud over its face is unfold as skinny as 1.5 millimeters. Chemical analyses of mud flakes from across the head point out that the mud layer is roofed in a white, probably limestone-based pigment, topped with a crimson mineral paint.
Leg fractures and different injury to the mother’s physique trace that the mud wrap might have been used to revive the physique after it was desecrated, probably by tomb robbers. Repairing the physique would have ensured that the deceased may proceed current within the afterlife.
The mud shell can also have been a poor man’s model of the costly resin coatings seen on royal mummies of this period, the researchers counsel (SN: 8/18/14). “Standing in Egyptian society was largely measured by proximity to the king,” says Karin Sowada, an archaeologist at Macquarie College in Sydney. So imitating royal funerary practices might have been a show of social standing.
The id and social standing of the mud-wrapped particular person stays a thriller. Analyzing different nonroyal mummies from historic Egypt might reveal how frequent mud shells have been, who used them and why.