Extremely Rare “Mud-Caked Mummy” Reveals Unusual Ancient Egyptian Mortuary Practice

In ancient Egypt, the fashion for any Royal Mummy’s next life trip must have been a resin shell to cover your wrapped parts but what if you cannot get your hands on these expensive and imported resin carapaces obviously use only mud. Archaeologists recently unearthed an ancient Egyptian mummy and discovered that it is a very rare example of a person who appears wrapped in textiles and preserved in good old mud. The theory behind this “garbage mummy” is that it is an example of “elite imitation”, a low-cost alternative to the price resin shell found in the royal body wraps of this period. From the end of the New Kingdom to the 21st Dynasty of Egypt (1294 to 945 BC), mummies occasionally discovered with a hard resin shell or “carapace” in its wrapper.

However, as published in the journal Plus One, scientists at Macquarie University in Australia have discovered that mummies wrapped in mud have never been documented in the literature before, making it the first study on this unusual mortuary practice.

“The body immersed in collections around the world has been sitting under our noses for generations. The application of new technologies can reveal completely new information that challenges what we already know,”said lead study author and archaeologist at Macquarie University. Karin Sawada said in a statement.

Extremely Rare “Mud-Caked Mummy” Reveals Unusual Ancient Egyptian Mortuary Practice

The mummy bought by an Australian-English explorer and a politician named Sir Charles Nicholson during a trip to Egypt from 1856 to 1857. It encountered some scans in 1999, which revealed the presence of a carapace, but more recent CT scans and analysis of textiles have shown that the mummy cools perfectly in a clay coating.

The owner of the coffin inscription identifies the woman as Meruah in the title, although researchers strongly suspect that this is not the person since the inscription contains iconography dating to about 1000 BCE, however, new radiocarbon dating of textile samples from linen wrapping puts the mummified person in the New Kingdom between 1200 and 1113 BC. The new study found that at one time the remains were among women aged 26 to 35, but the rest of their identities remained a mystery.

“Given the overall quality of his mummy and the extra cost of the carapace to restore the body, we can say that he was a family man, but we can say more,” Dr. Sowada told IFLScience. “Radiocarbon dates tell our body and its coffin has nothing to do with it, so we don’t know its name or location.”

Whether it is an example of “elite imitation” or a possible attempt to reconfigure a damaged body before entering the next life, the team believes this is the first time such a practice has documented in scientific research. However, they suspect that earthen carapaces can found in many other royal mummies.

“We believe that the shells identified as‘resins ’identified in previous CT studies of mummified individuals detained at the museum have been misidentified. Perhaps because of the more affordable nature of the clay, the archetype of this idea is more common than previously thought, “Dr. Sowada told IFLScience. Either way, the practice of this rare junk word is “a new addition to our understanding of ancient Egyptian mammals,” the group said.