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Youngest Egyptian Mummy Belongs to Miscarried Fetus

May 14, 2016 12:41 AM EDT
Fitzwilliam Museum discover the youngest ancient Egyptian human foetus in miniature coffin
The Fitzwilliam Museum have announced the discovery of the youngest example of a human foetus to be buried in ancient Egypt. Curators at the Fitzwilliam made the discovery, during their research for the pioneering bicentennial exhibition, Death on the Nile: Uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt.
(Photo : Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

For more than a century, Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has been housing a miniature ancient Egyptian Coffin that was dug up by the British School of Archaeology at Giza in 1907.

According to the report from Washington Post, the coffin is only 17 inches (44 centimeters) long and dates around 664 to 525 BC.

Since its discovery, archeologists believed that the wrapped package inside bound in bandages, over which molten black resin had been poured before the coffin was closed. Mummified remains of internal organs that were routinely removed during the embalming of the bodies.

But nearly 110 years later, archeologists found an inconclusive proof of skeleton in the coffin using X-ray imaging. The archeologist then used micro computed topography (CT) to have a better view of what is wrapped inside the coffin.

The CT scan revealed undisturbed remains of a tiny human body. The skeleton has a complete set of hands and feet. The arms are noticeably crossed in the over the chest. Archeologist suggests that the mummified remains belong to a human fetus estimated to be of no more than eighteen weeks gestation. They deduced that the fetus was a result of miscarriage. The scan didn't provide any concrete detail regarding the gender of the fetus.

"CT imaging has been used successfully by the museum for several projects in recent years, but this is our most successful find so far," Dr. Tom Turmezei explained in their press release.

"The ability of CT to show the inner workings of such artefacts without causing any structural damage proved even more invaluable in this case, allowing us to review the foetus for abnormalities and attempt to age it as accurately as possible.," added Dr. Turmezei.

These findings, along with other mummified remains of miscarried babies, are placed inside an intrinsically designed coffin. They provide a clear indication of the importance of burial in ancient Egyptian Society.

The miniature coffin is currently on display as part of the exhibition Death on the Nile: Uncovering the Afterlife of ancient Egypt until 22nd May 2016 at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge.

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