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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/14/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Australian researchers now think practice could have originated as far back as 4,500 year ago

The phrase, as old as a mummy has taken on new significance with a recent scientific discovery. Researchers now believe that the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification may date back 1,500 years earlier than previously thought.

Discovered in the more extravagant graves, the remains suggested that only the privileged people in this ancient society were preserved.

Discovered in the more extravagant graves, the remains suggested that only the privileged people in this ancient society were preserved.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/14/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Mummies, Egyptian, Australia, research


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An Australian-led study, led by Macquarie University researchers now say they have reached that theory based on studies of bodies found in ancient Egyptian graves from up to 6,000 years ago.

Previous research had suggested that mummification began about 2200 B.C. New research, however, indicates the practice was already happening between 4500 B.C. and 3350 B.C.

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"We've found experimentation in preservation was taking place in a tribal, prehistoric society some 1,500 years before the practice was regularly accepted to have begun," Dr. Jana Jones, of Macquarie University says.

The artefacts the team studied were excavated from tombs in Badari and Mostagedda in Egypt in the 1920s and 30s. The relics had been displayed in Britain's Bolton Museum.

Jones, upon her visit to the museum and found that the samples, some dating back to 4500 B.C., had not been archaeologically analyzed in 80 years.

She had found signs of a complex, processed mixture in the funerary linen samples that included aromatic plant extract, a plant gum and a natural petroleum source. This was a resin commonly used for mummification much later on.

"There was no fundamental change in the embalming mixture used some 3,000 years later," she said.

"The differences lay in substitution of an ingredient, but it already contained the empirical science that would become true mummification."

Jones was allowed to take 92 samples back to Australia for more analysis.

Discovered in the more extravagant graves, the remains suggested that only the privileged people in this ancient society were preserved.

"They were in graves that had more offerings than others," Jones said. "Such as a child buried with a pet gazelle and a lot of jewelry. I believe they were special members of a society."

Jones said bodies were not completely mummified in these findings. "Certain parts of the body such as head or the hands were treated in this [preservation] mixture," she said.

"We're looking at a time that was 1,000 years before writing, but we're understanding they really had an understanding of the science."

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