CT scans have revealed the inner contents of an Egyptian mummy to be that of a stillborn human baby, not as the mummified hawk it was once believed to be.

Bioarchaeologist Andrew Nelson, from Canada’s Western University, along with the UK’s Maidstone Museum and Nikon Metrology UK, conducted ‘micro-CT’ scans on the mummy—a technique that is said to produce the highest resolution—to get images of the tiny fetus without opening the cartonnage, according to LiveScience.

Believed for years to be a mummified hawk, this mummy from Maidstone Museum UK has now been determined, through micro-CT scanning, to be a stillborn male with severe abnormalities. This image shows the top part of its skull, which would ordinarily house a brain, did not form. The unprecedented analysis was conducted by an international research team led by bioarchaeologist Andrew Nelson, a mummy expert at Western University in London, Canada. (Courtesy: Western University, Ontario, Canada)

Cartonnage refers to the layers of papyrus or linen that encase the mummy. It was this cartonnage, along with the small stature and bird-like decorations, that led archaeologists to believe the mummy to be that of a votive hawk.

The micro-CT scans revealed a stillborn male at 23 to 28 weeks of gestation with a severely malformed skull—indicative of a condition called anencephaly.

Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The whole top part of his skull isn’t formed,” Andrew Nelson said.

“The arches of the vertebrae of his spine haven’t closed. His earbones are at the back of his head,” Nelson added.

Micro-CT scans determined a “hawk mummy” at Maidstone Museum UK is, in fact, a stillborn male human with severe congenital abnormalities that include a malformed skull and vertebrae. An international team’s unprecedented analysis was led by bioarchaeologist and mummy expert Andrew Nelson of Western University, Canada. (Courtesy: Western University, Ontario, Canada)

It is only the second known case of an anencephalic mummy; the first one was discovered in 1826.

The significance of this finding is whether mummification took place because fetuses were believed to have some power as talismans, according to Nelson.

“It would have been a tragic moment for the family to lose their infant and to give birth to a very strange-looking fetus, not a normal-looking fetus at all,” Nelson said.

The 2,100-year-old mummy was donated to the Maidstone Museum in 1925 in the United Kingdom by a local physician.

Credit: Western University via GeoBeats

Watch Next:

Top 5 Secrets Hidden in Antarctica – Found on Google Maps

Share
Categories: Archeology Science

Video Popular

  • Celebrating Arbor Day With Books

    Celebrating Arbor Day With Books

    Trees were once considered sacred and awe-inspiring: Oaks were worshiped by the European Druids, redwoods were a part of American Indian ritual, and baobabs a part of African tribal life. Ancient Chin ...

  • Sharks Eat Their Greens, Too—First Omnivorous Species Confirmed

    Sharks Eat Their Greens, Too—First Omnivorous Species Confirmed

    Not all sharks feed only on meat—at least one shark species also feeds on seagrass. Scientists have confirmed that one of the most common sharks in the world is an omnivore. The bonnethead shark, a re ...

  • Microsoft Flags Dangers to EU of Plans to Limit Data Use

    Microsoft Flags Dangers to EU of Plans to Limit Data Use

    Microsoft said on Sept. 5, that EU lawmakers’ copyright reforms limiting the use of potentially valuable data to non-profit bodies could damage the European Union’s digital development. Co ...

  • How Setting a Schedule Can Make You Less Productive

    How Setting a Schedule Can Make You Less Productive

    It can seem like there’s never enough time—not enough for sleep and not enough for play, not enough for cooking. and not enough for exercise. There’s a relatively new term to describe this feeling: ti ...

  • RiNo, Denver: America’s Best Place for a Bar Crawl?

    RiNo, Denver: America’s Best Place for a Bar Crawl?

    “RiNo reminds me of Williamsburg in 2004—just pretentious enough to be good, not yet pretentious enough to be annoying.” Kevin Burke is joking, of course. As the general manager of American Bonded—one ...

  • Respecting Teachers and Cherishing Virtue

    Respecting Teachers and Cherishing Virtue

    Respecting teachers and cherishing virtues are part of the traditional ethics practiced by the Chinese people. Teachers, who impart morality, knowledge, and values, teach people the proper ways to int ...

  • Home Ownership in Canada Declines, Reversing Long Upward Trend

    Home Ownership in Canada Declines, Reversing Long Upward Trend

    Home ownership in Canada fell for the first time in over 45 years, according to a Point2Homes study released this week. It had reached a record high of 69 percent in 2011, but as of 2016, it fell to 6 ...

  • Aretha Franklin Dresses, Hats to Go up for Auction

    Aretha Franklin Dresses, Hats to Go up for Auction

    NEW YORK—More than 30 dresses and accessories worn on stage by Aretha Franklin are going up for auction. The Queen of Soul died at age 76 in Detroit on Aug. 16. Julien’s Auctions says the items ...

  • 87 Elephants Found Slaughtered in Botswana, Africa

    87 Elephants Found Slaughtered in Botswana, Africa

    An alarming number of elephant carcasses have been discovered in aerial surveys across Botswana in what has been described as a “poaching frenzy.” Botswana was once known as a sanctuary fo ...

  • Yes, Marijuana Can Be Addictive

    Yes, Marijuana Can Be Addictive

    The business world is salivating at the potential $22.6 billion recreational marijuana market in Canada, with more new pot users expected after legalization on Oct. 17. But public-health officials wan ...

  • Google Races to Parry the Rise of Facebook in India

    Google Races to Parry the Rise of Facebook in India

    Google retains only a slight lead over Facebook in the competition for digital ad dollars in the crucial India market, sources familiar with the figures say, even though the search giant has been in t ...

  • Canada in Brief, Sept. 6-12

    Canada in Brief, Sept. 6-12

    Trudeau says he won’t use ‘tricks’ to ram through pipeline construction Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pouring cold water on Alberta’s suggestion that the federal government use legislation or a cou ...