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Hidden tattoos on ancient mummies discovered by historians using hospital CAT scans

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/24/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New exhibition opening to public in May will show fascinating results

Ancient Egyptians suffered from the same health issues that modern man faces today, such as high cholesterol, fatty diets and bad toothache. Amazingly, many of these Egyptians bore tattoos like today's trendiest young people. "Ancient Lives: New Discoveries", which opens at the British Museum on May 22, reveals that both the people of today and those of antiquity faces the same challenges and personal vanities.

One female mummy, aged between 20 and 35 and found in Sudan in 2005, sported a tattoo on her right leg.

One female mummy, aged between 20 and 35 and found in Sudan in 2005, sported a tattoo on her right leg.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/24/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Ancient Egypt, mummies, tattoos, health issues


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The public will finally be able to glimpse into what lies beneath all that wrapping after eight mummies underwent CAT scans at London hospitals. The scans provide the most detailed picture yet of our Egyptian forbears.

One of the mummies even sported a tattoo of the Archangel Michael on her inner thigh.

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"We want to promote the idea these are not objects, but real human beings," John Taylor, head curator of the British Museum's Ancient Egypt and Sudan department, says. "We want to capture the humanity of these people."

From royalty to ordinary people living along the Nile, the eight specimens came from all strata's of ancient life. It must be noted that the eight specimens also lived during different eras. The oldest tested is more than 5,500 years old and dates back to 3,500 BC, while the most recent lived around 1,300 years ago.

Some were just youngsters when they died, at around two years of age. Others lived to see their 50th birthday.

Using CAT scans scientists were able to build up a three-dimensional picture of the ancient remains. Some of the bodies were so well preserved that the scan revealed bones, tissue and vital organs.

Using carbon dating and infra-red "reflect-ography" to build up a detailed picture of their lives.

Scans of the pelvic areas also helped the team work out their ages by looking at the wear and tear on their bones.

Two of the eight mummies tested were found to have a build-up in their legs of plaque, which is essentially cholesterol, calcium and tissue, suggesting they suffered from heart problems.

Many also experienced poor dental health and had multiple abscesses, which if left untreated, may have led to inflammation of the throat, asphyxiation and ultimately death.

Analysis of digestive remains suggested the Egyptians enjoyed a wide diet that included fish, a little meat, beer, bread and sugar-rich fruits, such as dates.

One female mummy, aged between 20 and 35 and found in Sudan in 2005, sported a tattoo on her right leg.

"The tattoo on her right inner thigh represents a monogram that spells Michael in ancient Greek," Exhibition curator Daniel Antoine, who also curates the museum's physical anthropology department, said. "She is the first evidence of a tattoo from this period. This is a very rare find."

The tattoo represents the symbol of the Archangel Michael and one theory suggests it may have provided the owner, who lives in AD 700, with spiritual "protection."

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