Mummies began long before Age of Pharaohs

2014-08-14 11:24

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The earliest evidence of mummification in Egypt suggests that the practice of wrapping bodies to preserve them after death began around 1 000 years earlier than thought, said a study on Wednesday.

The study is the first to describe resins and linens used as funeral wrappings dating back as far as 3 350 to 4 500BC.

Historians have long believed that the Egyptian practice of mummification began around 2 500BC.

But by applying modern scientific analysis to Egyptian collections that were already in British museums, they found that back then, people were using similar preserving materials in the same proportions as found in later mummies.

"This work demonstrates the huge potential of material in museum collections to allow researchers to unearth new information about the archaeological past", said co-author Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford.

"Using modern scientific tools our work has helped to illuminate a key aspect of the early history of ancient Egypt."

Experts used gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and other chemical analysis techniques to identify natural materials used to preserve corpses at the time.

"These recipes consist of a plant oil or animal fat 'base' constituting the bulk of the 'balms'", said the study.

Lesser amounts of conifer resin, an aromatic plant extract, wax and plant gum or sugar were also used.

"Moreover, these recipes contained antibacterial agents, used in the same proportions as were employed by the Egyptian embalmers when their skill was at its peak, some 2500? 3000 years later", said the study.

Researchers on the decade-long project came from the Universities of York, Macquarie and Oxford.

The linen fragments they examined originated from entombed bodies in the earliest recorded ancient Egyptian cemeteries at Mostagedda in the Badari region of Upper Egypt.

Read more on:    egypt  |  research  |  archaeology

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.