Ancient Egyptians might have been carrying out sophisticated mummifications 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to new findings.
An investigation into a mummy that was found in 2019 has suggested it is the oldest remains of its kind ever discovered, and shown that previous understandings of mummification history may have been out of kilter by over a millennium.
The body of “Khuwy” - who was believed to be a nobleman from the Fifth Dynasty and discovered in a tomb in the necropolis at Saqqara - showed techniques that used high quality resin and extremely fine linen dressing that was not previously believed to have been used in the Old Kingdom period.
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Several of the paintings within Khuwy’s tomb are still brightly painted despite the 4,000 years that have passed. The tomb also boasts a tunnel entrance that has previously only been known to be found in pyramids.
The findings in 2019 prompted questions over Khuwy’s relationship to Pharaoh Djedkare Isesi, the ruler of ancient Egypt during the Fifth Dynasty.
The colours in the paintings of the tomb are also considered by Egyptologists to be “royal colours”.
The findings will be unveiled in full in a National Geographic series next month. Elsewhere in the eight-part series the burial chamber of the largest pyramid of any queen of Egypt is accessed and seen for the first time since it was built over 4,000 years ago.
The investigation into Khuwy’s mummification process, if confirmed to be from the Fifth Dynasty, could rewrite the history of ancient Egyptian mummification, according to experts.
“It’s extraordinary. The only time I’ve [seen] so much of this kind of good quality linen has been in the 21st dynasty,” Professor Salima Ikram, head of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, said of the bandages on Khuwy’s body.
The 21st dynasty reigned more than 1000 years after the period in which Khuwy is believed to have lived.
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