An Egyptian mummy thought to have been pregnant may not have been carrying a child after all, according to new research.
Last year, a team of Polish scientists said they had discovered the only known example of an embalmed pregnant Egyptian mummy.
But now an extraordinary row has erupted among those researchers, with several team members questioning the discovery.
Some experts from the Warsaw Mummy Project say what appeared to be a fetus in x-rays and CT images was actually the result of a “computer illusion and misinterpretation”.
Instead of a baby, they believe they are “mummified organs” inside the woman’s stomach.
Egyptian mummy thought to have been pregnant may not have had a child after all, new research suggests
Some experts from the Warsaw Mummy Project say what appeared to be a fetus in X-ray scans and CT images was actually “a computer illusion and misinterpretation”. They say some of the objects pictured here with arrows have been misidentified as a fetal head and body
Claim: Instead of a baby, they believe it’s ‘mummified organs’ inside the woman’s stomach
The world’s first pregnant Egyptian mummy
Brought to Poland in the mid-19th century, the “Mysterious Lady” represents the first known pregnant Egyptian mummy.
Last year, experts from the Warsaw Museum Project discovered that the mummy was pregnant and that the fetus had been ‘pickled like a pickle’.
A tomographic imaging examination revealed that the woman was between 20 and 30 years old when she died and was in her 26th to 30th week of pregnancy.
The mummy was previously thought to be the remains of priest Hor-Jehuti, until it was discovered in 2016 that it was an embalmed woman.
Kamila Braulińska, co-founder of the Warsaw Mummy Project, said the original research was “not a reliable scientific study”, while radiologist Łukasz Kownacki and conservationist Dorota Ignatowicz-Woźniakowska also dispute the research.
But two project members, Marzena Ozarek-Szlike and Wojciech Ejsmond, dismissed those claims.
They said today: ‘The Warsaw Mummy Project team does not confirm this information. The mom is pregnant.
The project, which began in 2015, uses technology to examine artifacts from the National Museum in Warsaw.
Researchers previously thought the mummy was a male priest, but later scans suggested it was a 26 to 30 week pregnant woman when she died for unknown reasons.
They think she was most likely of high status and was between 20 and 30 years old when she died in the 1st century BC.
Last year, the Warsaw Mummy Project team said a fetus had not been removed from the womb.
But write in July Archaeological and anthropological sciencesBraulińska, a bioarchaeologist, reiterated an initial belief that four bundles found in the mummy’s abdominal cavity were wrapped and embalmed organs.
She said, “The bundles were put there by former embalmers.
“In the bundles, there is probably at least one mummified organ of the deceased. It was a well-known practice in ancient Egypt.
“The remaining packages may contain body parts or other products from the mummification process.
“There is also another possibility: the embalmers placed bundles in the mummies in order to maintain the shape of the body after the mummification process.”
In 2021, through a combination of CT scans and X-rays, the Warsaw Mummy Project claimed to have discovered the remains of a fetus, around 26 to 30 weeks old, inside the woman.
But now an extraordinary row has erupted among these researchers, with several team members questioning the discovery.
These are the earliest drawings of the mummy case, dating back to the 1800s when the mummy was first taken to Poland
She added: “Our article contains a number of spectacular images and links to videos depicting the interior of the ancient mummy, including those made using holographic techniques, which are the latest trend in medicine. .
‘This is not the first mummy with such packages. Objects of this type are sometimes found in other parts of the body, and similar bundles or substances are found in the pelvis.
According to Braulinska, the discovery of the mummy’s apparent pregnancy was the result of an illusion caused by a phenomenon known as pareidolia, a natural human desire to see familiar objects in random shapes.
She said: “This phenomenon, combined with the lack of consultation of the theories with an expert in radiology, unfortunately only brought the effect of an overall sensation, and not of a reliable scientific study.
“Our article proves how important cooperation with specialists from various fields is in the study of ancient Egyptian mummies, and how the analysis of the results should be approached rationally and critically, putting aside delusions.”
WHAT IS THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS OF EGYPT?
The Valley of the Kings in Upper Egypt is one of the country’s top tourist attractions and is the famous burial place of many deceased pharaohs.
It is located near the ancient city of Luxor, on the banks of the Nile in eastern Egypt, 500 km from the pyramids of Giza, near Cairo.
The majority of pharaohs of the 18th to 20th Dynasties, who reigned from 1550 to 1069 BC. J.-C., rested in the tombs dug in the local rock.
The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the time.
The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where for nearly 500 years, from the 16th to 11th centuries BC, rock-cut tombs were dug for pharaohs and powerful nobles.
Almost all the tombs were opened and looted centuries ago, but the sites still give a sense of the opulence and power of the pharaohs.
The site’s most famous pharaoh is Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered in 1922.
Preserved to this day, in the tomb are original decorations of sacred images from, among others, the Book of Doors or the Book of Caves.
These are among the most important funerary texts found on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs.