Mummy May Rewrite the History of Mummies

Remains in Egypt may be oldest ever found by about 1,000 years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2021 9:35 AM CDT
Updated Oct 30, 2021 7:00 AM CDT
Mummy May Rewrite the History of Mummies
Stock image.   (Getty/eugenesergeev)

A dignitary named Khuwy who lived about 4,400 years ago just might end up being one of the more famous mummies in history. Provided his story checks out. Archaeologists in Egypt say the remains discovered in 2019 could prove that Egyptians were carrying out sophisticated mummifications about 1,000 years earlier than thought, reports the Guardian. Among other things, that would mean they were removing the brain and other organs, and using high-quality resins and linens to preserve the corpse. It has long been believed that no such mummifications took place during what's known as the Old Kingdom, roughly 2700BC to 2200BC, per the National.

"If this is indeed an Old Kingdom mummy, all books about mummification and the history of the Old Kingdom will need to be revised," Salima Ikram of the American University in Cairo, tells the Observer, via the Guardian. Another archaeologist involved in the research, Mohamed Megahed, voices a similar sentiment: "If it's really Khuwy, this is a breakthrough in ancient Egyptian history." Both statements, however, are qualified because the evidence is only circumstantial—for now. The mummified remains were discovered in a tomb whose artifacts go back more than 4,000 years, per Live Science in its original coverage of the find.

The tomb did indeed belong to a nobleman named Khuwy, based on the hieroglyphs found inside. And Khuwy himself lived during the Old Kingdom. But it's possible that at some point after his burial, Khuwy's remains were removed and the tomb was "repurposed" for a more modern corpse, per the National. The next step is to conduct carbon-14 dating on the remains, the results of which should be known in about six months. If the mummy indeed hails from the Old Kingdom, it could also shed new light on trading of the time, because the resins used likely would have been imported from what is now Lebanon. (Read more mummies stories.)

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