Pokolbin-based Egyptologist Dr Jana Jones has made a fascinating discovery that will change the way historians think about the practice of embalming.
Dr Jones, a researcher with Macquarie University’s Department of Ancient History, has been working with a team of researchers from York, Oxford, Warwick, Trento and Turin Universities, analysing a mummy called “Fred”, who dates from c.3700-3500 BC.
“Fred” has been housed in Turin’s Egyptian museum since 1901.
While previously thought to have been naturally embalmed, the research conducted by Dr Jones and the team indicate that “Fred” was actually embalmed utilising similar principals employed by the ancient Egyptians some 2500 years later.
Dr Jones, who is an expert in ancient Egyptian burial practices, said that the findings were a “momentous contribution to our limited knowledge of the prehistoric period and the expansion of early mummification practices”.
“By combining chemical analysis with visual examination of the body, genetic investigations, radiocarbon dating and microscopic analysis of the linen wrappings, we confirmed that this ritual mumification process took place around 3600 BC,” she said.
Dr Jones added that the revelations would go a long way in helping historians and researchers understand the prehistoric period.
“The examination of the Turin body makes a momentous contribution to our limited knowledge of the prehistoric period and the expansion of early mumification practices as well as providing vital, new information on this particular mummy.
The current study builds on research conducted in 2014, which identified the presence of complex embalming agents in surviving fragments of linen wrappings from prehistoric bodies found in since obliterated tombed at Mostagedda in Middle Egypt.
The study – A Prehistoric Egyptian Mummy: evidence for an “embalming recipe” and the evolution of early formative funerary practices – is published in the Journal of Archeological Science.