The first remains of an ancient Egyptian mummified pregnant woman have been identified, having been discovered in Thebes, dating back more than 2,000 years, the Mail reported on Friday.
The woman, thought to be in her 20s, was 28 weeks into her pregnancy when she died, scans of the body showed.
Experts from the Polish Academy of Sciences, working as part of the Warsaw Mummy Project, endeavored to discover more about the woman.
Through a combination of CT scans and X-rays, the team discovered the remains of a foetus, about 26 to 30 weeks old, inside the woman – the first time a pregnant mummy has been found.
The corpse of the woman, who died 2,000 years ago, had been carefully wrapped in fabrics and left with a rich set of amulets to see her into the afterlife, according to the authors writing in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The team couldn’t tell exactly why the foetus was left inside the woman and not mummified separately, but suggested it may be because it was too young to have a name so needed to travel to the afterlife inside its mother.
This was the “first discovery of a pregnant embalmed body,” study lead author Dr Wojciech Ejsmond said, adding “there is no other so well preserved ancient body of a pregnant woman.”
The mummy was said to have been found in royal tombs in Thebes, Upper Egypt, coming from the elite of Theban community, according to the study authors.
It was discovered in the 1800s and dates back to the first century BC, a time when Cleopatra was Queen and the city of Thebes was a hive of activity.