Ten Incredible Mummy Discoveries from Around the World
Mummies of humans and other animals have been found on every continent, both as a result of natural preservation through unique climatic conditions, and as intentionally preserved corpses for religious or cultural purposes. In addition to the well-known mummies of Ancient Egypt, deliberate mummification was a feature of several ancient cultures in areas of South America and Asia, as well as numerous other. Here we feature ten unique mummy discoveries from around the world.
The mummies of Qilakitsoq – Greenland
His little face still stares upwards, as if eternally waiting for his mother. From the moment he was discovered, the little Inuit baby captured hearts with his photograph plastered on magazines and news stories around the world. When he was first found, he was believed to be a doll, but it was soon discovered that it was actually the body of a six-month old baby boy. He was buried alive with his already dead mother – presumably because there was no one left to care for him. The small Inuit baby was found along with a two-year-old boy, and six women of various ages, who were buried in two separate graves protected by a rock that overhung a shallow cave. The bodies were naturally mummified by the sub-zero temperatures and dry, dehydrating winds, providing a remarkable opportunity to learn about the Greenland Inuit of half a millennium ago – they are the oldest preserved remains ever to be found there.
Tollund Man – Denmark
Tollund Man is the naturally mummified body of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was hanged as a sacrifice to the gods and placed in a peat bog where he remained preserved for more than two millennia. Today, the face of the Tollund Man is as preserved as the day he died. The look upon his face is calm and peaceful, as though looking upon a sleeping man.
The Lady of Dai Mummy – China
When talking about body preservation and mummies, people all over the world think of Egypt and the mummified bodies of Pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun. But how many know that the world’s best preserved bodies actually come from China? The Lady of Dai, otherwise known as The Diva Mummy, is a 2,100-year-old mummy from the Western Han Dynasty and the best preserved ancient human ever found. Just how this incredible level of preservation was accomplished has baffled and amazed scientists around the world. Xin Zhui, the Lady of Dai, died between 178 and 145 BC, at around 50 years of age. The objects inside her tomb indicated a woman of wealth and importance, and one who enjoyed the good things in life. But it was not the precious goods and fine fabrics that immediately caught the attention of archaeologists, rather it was the extraordinarily well-preserved state of her remains that captured their eyes.
The 500-Year-Old Inca Child Mummies - Argentina
Over a decade ago, the remains of three Incan children were found, remarkably preserved, atop the summit of Volcan Llullaillaco in Argentina. Last year, an analysis on the bodies of the 13-year-old ‘Maiden’ and her 4- to 5-year-old companions, Llullaillaco Boy and Lightening Girl, revealed that the children had been drugged and given alcohol on a regular basis as part of a year-long series of ceremonial processes leading up to their final sacrifice. Evidence suggests the sacrificial ceremony may have been used as a form of social control. Being selected for the ritual was supposed to be seen as a great honour, but it probably produced a climate of fear. In fact, it was a major offense for parents to show any sadness after giving up their children for the ceremony.
Tjayasetimu, the child star – Egypt
Tjayasetimu is the name of a little girl who was a star singer in ancient Egypt. Nearly three thousand years ago, she was a member of the royal choir and sang for the pharaohs in temples on the Nile. The seven-year-old girl, although heartbreakingly young when she died, was important enough to merit an elaborate mummification, a process normally reserved for Egyptian royalty and elite families. Tjayasetimu had been wrapped in painted bandages, her face covered with a delicate veil and hidden by a golden mask, and she had been placed in a gilded sarcophagus. The child star was well-preserved and still had a full head of shoulder-length hair. They could even see her milk teeth pushing up through her gums. At a height of just 4 feet, Tjayasetimu was far too small for her sarcophagus, although it is not clear why a casing was not made to fit her size. Scientists believe she died as a result of a short illness, such as cholera.