When we think of ancient Egyptians, mummies usually come to mind pretty quickly, and new research is shedding light on the mummification process of these ancient civilizations. Specifically on the fact that Egyptians were practicing mummification long before we previously thought.
The 2019 discovery of the mummified body of a high-ranking nobleman called Khuwy has upended previous beliefs about Egyptian history. The well-preserved body indicates that the practice of mummification dates back to the Old Kingdom─1,000 years earlier than previous estimates.
Old Kingdom mummification was previously thought to be rather rudimentary, using basic desiccation and minimal removal of the internal organs. According to an analysis conducted on the body, which dates to 4,000 years ago, Khuwy’s mummification breaks this mold and appears to have used fine linen dressing and high-quality resin. Professor Salima Ikram, head of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, told the Observer, “If this is indeed an Old Kingdom mummy, all books about mummification and the history of the Old Kingdom will need to be revised.”
Khuwy was discovered in a lavish tomb at the necropolis at Saqqara. Each mummy discovery sheds new light on ancient mummification rituals and techniques, but Khuwy has the unique credit for completely upending previous timelines surrounding this process and ancient Egyptian culture.
Image source: Ian Glatt/National Geographic/Windfall Films