A prehistoric Egyptian mummy: Evidence for an ‘embalming recipe’ and the evolution of early formative funerary treatments

Jana Jones, Thomas F.G. Higham, David Chivall, Raffaella Bianucci, Gemma L. Kay, Mark J. Pallen, Ron Oldfield, Federica Ugliano, Stephen A. Buckley

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Abstract

Interdisciplinary scientific investigations utilising chemical analysis, shotgun metagenomics, textile analysis and radiocarbon dating have been applied to the study of an intact prehistoric Egyptian mummy, allowing insights into when this individual lived and died, and the funerary treatments employed in the preparation of the body. Here we present the first evidence for an extant prehistoric mummy that has undergone treatment with notably similar formative complex ‘balms’ that would later constitute the classic embalming recipes employed at the height of pharaonic mummification some 2500 years later. Making the informed assumption that the provenance of the Turin body was Gebelein, Qena or Luxor (Thebes), the findings offer the first indication that this type of funerary recipe was likely to have been employed over a wider geographical area at a time when the concept of a pan-Egyptian identity was supposedly still developing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-200
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume100
Early online date16 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Mummification
  • Prehistoric Egypt
  • Embalming chemistry
  • GC-MS
  • Radiocarbon dating

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