Fractured Femur of an Egyptian Mummy

Fractured Femur of an Egyptian Mummy


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The HORUS Study is an ongoing investigation into the health of ancient Egyptians using CT scanning as the principle tool. The details of mummy selection and CT scan approach have been described elsewhere (Allam, 2009 , 2010 , 2011 Thompson, 2013 ). In brief, the study and its continuation were approved on three occasions by vote of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Mummies at the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo were selected for CT scanning by Egyptologists/preservationists based on their likely good state of preservation. An attempt was made to include mummies of both sexes, a variety of ages at time of death, and from various eras, but the mummies were not randomly selected. Whole body CT scanning was obtained on 45 mummies using a six slice multislice CT scanner (Siemens Somatom, Forchheim, Germany). Imaging of the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, and extremities was performed at 130 kv with 1.25 mm collimation and 50% overlap. The head was imaged at 130 kv with 0.6 mm collimation and 50% overlap. In addition, seven other mummies from British and American museums which had been CT scanned using a similar approach were included in the study (Allam, 2011 ). The images of the large joints and spine were reviewed and scored according to consensus by a team of physicians. All pathologic findings were reviewed by an orthopedic surgeon (KOF), three radiologists (AG, JDS, MLS), and a rheumatologist (HM). Specifically, OA changes of the large joints and the spine were scored using the classification of Kellgren and Lawrence (Kellgren, 1957 ). Glenohumeral joint dysplasia was scored using the classification of Walsh (Walch, 1998 ). Acromioclavicular instability was assessed according to Rockwood (Rockwood, 1996 ). Hip dysplasia was assessed according to the Crowe classification (Crowe, 1979 ). Osteochondritis dissecans was assessed according to description of Clanton and DeLee (Clanton, 1982 ). Scoliosis, when the spine was intact and not disrupted was evaluated according to the description of King (King, 1983 ).

Demographic information was obtained by a team of experienced Egyptologists and preservationists (AG, IB, AN). Records of the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities were used to determine the historical time period in which each ancient Egyptian lived. Biologic anthropological measures were used to estimate age (femur, clavicle and skull sutures) and gender (pelvis, skull and presence of genitalia) at the time of death by an expert biologic anthropologist (MTS).

Mummy of middle class ancient Egyptian woman found to have intriguing features

A 3,000-year-old female mummy that underwent radiological examination in November was determined to be a middle class, free citizen but not an extremely important or influential person, says a researcher who was part of a team that examined her.

CT scans and a closer examination of the mummy known as Hatason, has shown that she was the only mummy placed in the unusual coffin, which had on its interior a large depiction of the declining jackal-headed Anubis, says Dr. Jonathan Elias of the Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium. Prior to the radiological scans of the mummy in November, it was unknown if the coffin’s occupant had been changed out as ancient Egyptians sometimes did. She was dressed in plain attire.

“Hatason’s coffin has an area of residual linen glued onto it by mummy effluent, which stuck in place when the mummy itself was first removed,” Dr. Elias wrote to Ancient Origins in e-mail after the Nov. 24 examination.

“Hatason was the only mummy placed in this particular coffin. The coffin belongs to an unusual type known as a ‘daily dress’ coffin, a kind encountered most frequently during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties of the New Kingdom. Its feminine ‘daily dress’ aspect is shown by the presence of modeled arms (left arm crossed over the stomach right arm stretched along the side) and carved feet with painted sandals and bare ankles.”

Another mummy held in California, at Stanford University, is of the Chantress of Amun. Like Hatason, it is of the era around the 21 st Dynasty. (Photo by Broken Sphere/ Wikimedia Commons )

Researchers had said earlier they don’t know if her mummy was the original occupant of the coffin and even if she was in fact a woman. They still don’t know what her real name was they believe the name Hatason, which sounds like Hatshepsut, was assigned to her in the 1890s in an attempt to pass her off as royalty.

In November 2015, Hatason was carefully transported from a San Francisco Fine Arts Museum to Stanford University’s medical school for imaging by radiologists and examination by Egyptologists.

“‘Hatason’ has been owned by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since 1895. The mummy is still completely wrapped and early records contain the detail that the find spot was Lycopolis, otherwise known as Asyut, in Middle Egypt, about 200 miles south of Cairo,” Dr, Elias wrote.

“This provenience is probably accurate since the interior of the coffin has a very large image of a reclining jackal deity (either Anubis or Wepwawet) who was the major god of the Asyut region. No idea of its entombment circumstances exists. I do not believe it likely that it was in a grandiose tomb.”

Anubi, an important funerary god in Asyut where Hataon was found, is depicted in this ancient painting attending a mummy. (Photo by self/ Wikimedia Commons )

“Typologically speaking, the coffin is extremely important. It is not ‘run-of-the-mill’ but having examined it, I wouldn’t argue that the mummy belonged to an extremely powerful and influential person. The individual who we call Hatason can be seen however, as having the status of a free citizen of Egypt, ‘solid middle class’ in our typical way of putting it,” Dr. Elias wrote.

He added that the chronology of the mummy and her coffin are still being worked out, but it can’t be later than the 21 st Dynasty of 1070 to 945 BC and may date to the late 19 th or early 20 th dynasties, around 1200 to 1125 BC. He has recommended a carbon 14 dating be done to ascertain more precisely when she lived and died.

Another scan of Hatason’s head (Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco)

“It [the coffin] is inscribed, but the texts, while ancient, are not translatable—they are unconventional—as if space was being filled up with a pastiche of true texts. Interestingly, this happened fairly frequently in ancient Egypt,” Dr. Elias wrote.

The CT scans showed Hatason’s brain was not removed and is well-preserved. It is on a bed of sediment that may be the remains from her brain that flowed downwards. Dr. Elias does not believe embalmers inserted the sediment. Her body cavity was not likely eviscerated. While the skeleton has collapsed and therefore examination of her pelvis to determine sex was not possible, the team, which included Dr. Kerstin Mueller of Stanford University Department of Radiology and at Dr. Renee Dreyfus of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, said examination of her skull showed her to be female.

Earlier news reports that the matter had been inserted into her skull are erroneous, he said.

Featured image: The head and upper thorax of Hatason (Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco)

Mark Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and is a former newspaper and magazine writer and copy editor who's long been interested in anthropology, mythology and ancient history. His hobbies are writing and drawing.

New Ancient Egyptian Human Mummies from the Valley of the Kings, Luxor: Anthropological, Radiological, and Egyptological Investigations

The Valley of the Kings (arab. Wadi al Muluk KV) situated on the West Bank near Luxor (Egypt) was the site for royal and elite burials during the New Kingdom (ca. 1500–1100 BC), with many tombs being reused in subsequent periods. In 2009, the scientific project “The University of Basel Kings’ Valley Project” was launched. The main purpose of this transdisciplinary project is the clearance and documentation of nonroyal tombs in the surrounding of the tomb of Pharaoh Thutmosis III (ca. 1479–1424 BC KV 34). This paper reports on newly discovered ancient Egyptian human mummified remains originating from the field seasons 2010–2012. Besides macroscopic assessments, the remains were conventionally X-rayed by a portable X-ray unit in situ inside KV 31. These image data serve as basis for individual sex and age determination and for the study of probable pathologies and embalming techniques. A total of five human individuals have been examined so far and set into an Egyptological context. This project highlights the importance of ongoing excavation and science efforts even in well-studied areas of Egypt such as the Kings’ Valley.

1. Introduction

The Valley of the Kings (arab. Wadi al Muluk KV) situated on the West Bank near Luxor (Egypt) was the site for royal and elite burials during the New Kingdom (ca. 1500–1100 BC), with many tombs being subsequently reused by lesser elites (ca. 950–850 BC). Its remote and dry location helped for the preservation of the buried ancient human mummified remains [1–5]. The valley has been visited by robbers and tourists since antiquity since the early 19th century AD, antiquarians and archaeologists have cleared and recorded tombs, with a total of 61 sepulchers being known by the start of the 20th century [6]. In 1912, The financier and excavator, Theodore Davis (1837–1915) famously declared the valley now “being exhausted” [7]. However, in late 1922, the archaeologist Howard Carter (1874–1939) and his colleagues discovered the now iconic tomb (KV 62) of Pharaoh Tutankhamun [8]. Since these days, almost one hundred years ago, discovering new tombs has become rare in the valley: in 2005, the Amenmesse Project found KV 63, an embalming cache [9], and in 2012, the University of Basel Kings’ Valley Project found KV 64 [10–12]. Nowadays, most archeological research focuses on the documentation and precise recording of the hitherto known tombs and pits, reestablishing their precise location and analyzing their remaining contents.

Researchers of the University of Basel (Switzerland) have been involved in Egyptological projects in the Kings’ Valley since many years [13]. In 2009, the most recent scientific project “The University of Basel Kings Valley Project” ( access date: 20 Dec. 2014) or ( access date: 20 Dec. 2014) was started with Susanne Bickel as director and Elina Paulin-Grothe as field director. The main purpose of this transdisciplinary project is the investigation and documentation of nonroyal tombs in the surroundings of the tomb of Pharaoh Thutmose III (ca. 1450 BC KV 34 Figure 1).

During the season of spring 2010, the project team started research on tomb KV 31, of which only the upper rim of the shaft was visible on the desert surface. No information about this tomb nor documentation of former archaeological explorations were known, although KV 31 has possibly been visited already by Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823) in 1817 and perhaps also by Victor Loret (1859–1946) or his team in 1898. As its shaft was entirely filled with sand and stones, it had not been surveyed by the Theban Mapping Project (, for a first sketch of the tomb, access date: Dec. 20, 2014).

Tomb KV 31 lies on a steep slope on the west flank of the lateral valley it consists of a vertical shaft with a depth of about 5 m, which gives access to a central room B (ca. 470 cm × 370 cm). The main burial chamber (room C, ca. 530 cm × 320 cm, Figure 2) lies to the south of the central room, a less properly cut room D lies to the west. The central room was filled in with a thick layer of desert debris possibly indicating a later reuse of the tomb. Rooms C and D contained the very fragmented remains of several burials, probably five individuals, which can be assigned to the mid-18th dynasty (ca. 1450–1400 BC, from the reign of Thutmose III to that of Amenhotep II) on the basis of a large quantity of pottery and some fragments of canopic jars. The original burials were severely looted in antiquity (21st dynasty, 11th–10th c. BC), some decades before the probable reuse of the tomb, and further damage by modern robbers seems assured. Robbers of all periods sought for valuables, mainly jewellery ancient looters moreover retrieved all wooden objects for reuse. No wooden coffins remained in KV 31. The mummies of the individuals were stripped of all their bandages and violently disarticulated. Most of the mummies’ remains were found clustered in room C (thus labelled 31.C), with one mummy found in room D (31.D). The remaining objects do not reveal the identity of the individuals. However, the quality of the fragmentary burial goods indicates their very high social status. During the mid-18th dynasty, the Kings’ Valley was used as burial ground for members of the royal family and the kings’ immediate entourage (queens, princesses, princes, wet-nurses, and royal companions, [14]). Future ancient DNA analyses might answer the question whether the individuals of KV 31 were related to each other and whether they belonged to the royal family or not.

The aim of this paper is to report on these ancient human mummified remains. The application of simple, on-site techniques (visual inspection, conventional X-rays) allows the investigators to reassemble the highly fragmented bodies as well as assess sex, individual age, and possible pre- and postmortem changes.

2. Material and Methods

All human remains found in KV 31 (chambers C and D), Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt, were reassembled and analysed. The initial stage of analysis consisted of matching up body fragments to form complete individuals. The mummies and fragments thereof then were subjected to macroscopic examination by naked eye and magnifying glasses for mummification technology, taphonomic changes in the mummies, basic ageing and sexing, and identifying any particular lesions. This was finally followed by radiography. A total of 27 radiological images of all bodies were taken. Some of the images are of minor quality (field of view, exposure time) yet unfortunately no repetition of such lower quality images could be made due to local technical restrictions (traditional development over night only) and administrative restrictions prohibited the use of more modern and adequate radiographic equipment. The portable machine used was a Karmex Diagnostic X-ray Unit PX-20N (AC 115 V 50/60 HZ, 50–130 KVp 2–20 mA), together with Agfa industrial film. The kV was 60, 15 mAs, although there was some variation due to technical issues of electricity supply. The distance varied between 1.35 m and 1.45 m. The bodies were also photographed within the tomb. Ageing and sexing was based on standard anthropological criteria [15, 16] as far as possible based on the skeletonized, partially mummified, fully mummified, and in some cases even fully wrapped remains. After examination, the body parts were labelled and stored appropriately in individual modern coffins in KV 31.

3. Results

3.1. General Assessment and Macroscopic Appearance

First, an initial macroscopic assessment was undertaken. The various fragmented body parts, initially thought to be four mummies, were “matched.” Almost all of the bone and soft tissue fragments could be relocated correctly, leading to a much more complete appearance of the bodies. This “matching” led to a new total of five individuals. Body C1 consists of an isolated head as well as thorax and lower parts of the body. Body C2 is almost complete yet separated in four major parts (head, upper body, and two legs) its legs are still partially wrapped. Body C3 is headless but thorax, and the majority of the left arm and both legs are in fragmented form preserved. Body C4 is almost complete, except for the feet and hands mostly fragmented. Body D consists of the pelvic girdle and most likely the head of the same individual. Thus, all bodies have suffered major postmortem damage and do not show by naked eye any inscriptions or amulets. The position of the arms of the mummies varies (Table 1).

3.2. Mummy C1 (Figure 3)

This fragmented mummy is fairly complete. It clearly shows a female with small, albeit deflated, breasts and a female pelvis (subpubic arcus). The individual age seems to be juvenile, maybe up to adult (ca. 18–25 yrs). Both arms lie straight along her torso yet the hands have been broken off. The body is now in several components: head (separated from the torso between the seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebra), torso, and legs (the right foot is missing the toes), all of which can be realigned, giving a length of ca. 160 cm (159 cm according to Bach [17], with the maximum length of humerus, as defined by Martin Mass Nr. 1 [18], to be bilaterally 290 mm). The head shows some frontal hacking marks most likely of postmortem nature. The head length is 170 mm and head width is 138 mm. The face is broken, but part of the maxilla and the entire mandible survives, complete with teeth, and the tongue is well preserved too. Twenty-eight teeth are erupted and do not show signs of excessive wear or any dental disease assumed. Some postmortem damage such as a lesion of the right lower first molar and in the frontal part of the left maxilla can be found. The right side of the chin is nicked by a blade. A few wrinkles are visible on the remaining left side of the face.

Unfortunately, the damage makes it impossible to determine if excerebration took place nasally, although from the remaining anatomical elements excerebration looks rather unlikely. Rests of meninges are visible intracranially. The head is covered by short, fine, black, silky hair, with one lock of lighter coloured hair, possibly the result of an excess of natron. The ears are plugged with linen tamped in with resinous material. The body was eviscerated and the abdomen and the pelvic area are stuffed with dense embalming packing materials. The body was wrapped in several layers of linen the legs and arms are packed separately much of the bandaging has been removed later. The belly was hacked open and the interior packing was sliced by a sharp blade as is evidenced by cut-marks. The interior cavity is full with packages of bandages that are blackened, presumably by oils and resins. On the back, in the shoulder areas there are also signs of slashing. Based on the healthy teeth, an early adult age can be assumed.

The X-rays show that the head has been separated at the level of the seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebra. A big skull lesion with fragments in the posterior skull cavity can be seen also parts of the maxilla are separated. Both epiphyses of the iliac bone crest are not fully closed.

The right hand is disarticulated, and of the left hand only three fingers are left one of it with a fracture in the proximal phalangeal and metacarpal bone. The left ulna and radius are fractured. The left fibula head is most likely fractured too and the former proximal epiphyseal plate is still slightly visible. A fracture at the right lower limb is visible also the left foot is disarticulated at the upper ankle joint the distal phalanges of the first toe as well as the middle and distal phalanges of the fifth toe are missing. A subluxation can be found at the calcaneocuboid joint. All these traumata seem to be of postmortem nature. On the conventional X-ray, the thorax shows dense packing in the right part, but no clear signs of remnants of a heart or other mediastinal or pulmonary tissues can be found. The symphysis pubis is hardly visible due to the superimposition of the stuffing material located in the small pelvis yet specifically both medial menisci are clearly visible.

3.3. Mummy C2 (Figure 4)

The head is separated from the torso. The legs, with feet attached, are also separated from the body, with the pelvis attached to the legs. The clavicles are pushed up and the humeri are squashed into the body. The upper arms lay along the body, and the lower arms are moved in so that the hands rested over the pubes. The belly area is broken postmortem, and the left hand is missing, as are portions of the left distal foot.

The remnants of the brain seem to be left in the cranium. Parts of the head, especially the face, are still well wrapped in linen bandages, with the back of the head and hair remaining exposed.

Postmortem cut-marks are visible in the facial bandages on the right side and these are at least four to five centimeters deep. The right eye is sunk in and the bandages are missing, whereas the left eye is fully covered by bandages. The back and top of the head are partially covered by hair that is braided and does not appear to be a wig but the deceased’s own hair, although it is possible that some of the braids are woven into the natural hair. The crown of the head is solidly matted, as if oil had been placed there and dribbled into the hair. The ears, however, might have been plugged with linen as the ear openings are distended. The thoracic cavity is completely stuffed with a granular material. In the left thorax region, there is a small soft tissue defect visible. There is a complete separation of the body at the level of the fourth lumbar vertebra.

The robbers have also hacked the body in the belly area and removed the abdominal wall, rendering visible the fact that the body cavity is densely stuffed with rolls of linen impregnated with resinous material. Some sand and gravel are also visible in the body cavity.

The metacarpal bones are present on the right side, whereas for the rest of the left and right side the fingers and wrists are completely missing. Each arm is individually wrapped, spirally, as are the legs. One can count at least a dozen of layers of bandages on the right arm, although originally there were probably more. The legs were similarly wrapped, with the left thigh being wrapped in dozens of layers of linen. The right leg seems to be ca. 1-2 cm longer than the left one however, this is most likely related to postmortem positioning. Blade marks made by a very sharp implement can be seen in the compacted wrappings of both thighs. The toes are wrapped individually although they are in fewer layers of bandages—two or three—and then wrapped together with the rest of the foot.

On the conventional X-rays, well pneumatized frontal sinuses, a soft tissue defect at the right neck area, and a radio-dense structure of unknown nature at the left ear can be seen. In the right upper thoracic aperture, a radio-dense structure consisting of two parts can be found. A fracture of the right first rib is also visible also the left 11th rib is broken, most likely postmortem. The iliosacral joint is also most likely fractured postmortem and the left iliac crest is not yet fused. A radio-dense structure of unknown nature can be found between the trapezoid bone and the first metacarpal bone of the right hand.

The stature in situ measures ca. 156 cm. However, based on the measurement of humerus, radius, and tibia [19] an average of ca. 165 cm can be assumed—rather a dramatic difference. Based on the pelvis morphology, this is rather a female individual, whereas the skull shows a slight masculine tendency. Its age is most likely young adult, most long bone epiphyses seem fused, and the teeth show a rather low degree of abrasion yet both iliac crest epiphyses are slightly visible (ca. 20–25 yrs). On the whole, it is more likely to be a male individual.

3.4. Mummy C3 (Figure 5)

This mummy is a fairly complete body, although the head and right foot are missing and some extremities damaged. Multiple, uncountable layers of linen, at least four centimeters deep/thick, cover the body. The arms were crossed over the chest, with the left fingers II–V being flexed, with a straight thumb as if it were holding an object. All extremities are multiply broken and the abdomen is exposed. Some soft tissue is missing in the left leg. It is most likely a juvenile to adult individual most of the epiphyses seem to be closed (ca. 18–25 yrs). The sex is difficult to determine from the pelvis: while the arc composé is rather female, the incisura ischiadica major is indeterminate, and the pelvis in general seems to be rather male. Also, there are no breasts visible. The right humerus length is ca. 345 mm, the tibial length bilaterally each ca. 390 mm thus, based on Breitinger [19], this would represent ca. 175 cm in total height, more in keeping for males.

The X-rays reveal a.o. a proximal left humerus fracture of most likely postmortem origin. The presence of mediastinal tissue, particularly the heart, cannot be determined due to the filling of the majority of the thorax and abdomen with rather dense stuffing material particularly in the lower abdomen and pelvis. Multiple fractures and anatomical dislocations can be seen: in the left distal lower arm and in the left subtrochanteric region as well as in the left tibia condyles. In the right axillar region, a discontinuity with a soft tissue defect in the humeral head region can be found as differential diagnosis, a nondislocated humeral fracture of most likely postmortem origin as well as an artefact due to the superimposition of a soft tissue lesion is most likely. Also, the right first metatarsal shows a possible postmortem fracture. Finally, a mildly scoliotic upper thoracic spine toward the left side mostly due to positioning can be seen.

3.5. Mummy C4 (Figure 6)

Fairly complete mummy, yet several fragments, parts of feet, and particularly the right arm are missing. It seems to be an adult individual of unknown sex, with a rather female pelvis shape however, based on secondary sex characteristics (clear absence of female breasts), this is the broken up body of a man, although there is no male genital visible at all. The stature in situ is ca. 154 cm. Based on the long bone lengths (length of femur bilaterally ca. 380 mm, medial tibia length right ca. 345 mm, and left ca. 340 mm), the total stature according to Breitinger [19] for a male would be ca. 160 cm.

The partially fully exposed head has thin hanks of hair attached to it, some of which, on the right side, are fairly long. The right ear is crinkled and does not look as if it was pierced. The nose is flattened and there is no indication that it was ever filled with linen plugs to keep its shape. The maxilla shows that all teeth but the third molars had erupted. The teeth show signs of wear and some, particularly the frontal ones, are altered postmortem but no obvious disease is apparent. The mandible is missing. The vast majority of the prevertebral throat area is completely missing.

Only the proximal half of the right humerus survives, and the right radius and ulna are missing. The left arm is broken but present. The upper arms lay along the side of the body the hands seem to have been placed over the pubes but this is difficult to ascertain due to the mummy’s broken state. Both shoulders are positioned cranially (shoulder elevation). The evisceration was in the left lumbar region (ca. 8 cm long), with the cut looking fairly vertical (ca. 15° proximally oriented towards lateral), which might indicate that this mummy was made prior to the end of the reign of Thutmose III (1479–1425) [20]. However, the cut is not clear enough to be completely confident of this dating. The body cavity was filled. The robbers who are responsible for the destruction of the body also cut out a piece of flesh just above the left buttock apparently with a sharp implement.

The X-rays show an unidentifiable small bone fragment at the left femur condyles and a fractured fibula collum as well as a soft tissue defect. The left clavicle is fractured. Also, a massive soft tissue defect right medial in the area of the adductor muscles as well as a unique contour of the femurs bilaterally up to the condyle region can be found. Also, left-sided defects of the pubic bone and symphysis can be seen. All traumata are most likely of postmortem nature. Finally, the massive thoracic (with the exception of the left apex area) and abdominal stuffing can be seen bilaterally.

3.6. Mummy D1 (Figure 7)

This body is highly fragmented consisting of a fractured head, the majority of the cervical and thoracic spine, parts of the shoulder blades, the sternum, the proximal part of the right humerus, the pelvis girdle, and major parts of the lower limbs only. This highly tentative grouping is also based on the fact that the legs and pelvic bones definitively match, and this is the only spare head left in the tomb (which from visual inspection may match too). The bandages are virtually all stripped off from the head and the legs.

The frontal part of the head is badly damaged, but there are no clear indications of excerebration via the ethmoid bone as it seems to be intact. The brain as well as the falx cerebri is visible intracranially also most likely remnants of the brain have been identified in the conventional radiograph (see below). The hair is short and reddish the color might be the result of ageing or bleaching due to embalming agents. The ears were plugged with linen soaked in resin. The eyes are closed and some of the eyelashes survive. Some natron, the substance which was identified by visual testing, is visible on the occipital area and on the left and right sides of the head and neck, below the jaw line. The following teeth are preserved (Fédération Dentaire Internationale (FDI)/World Dental Federation Notation, ISO-3950 Notation): 13 with postmortem damage, 14 ditto, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 35, 36, 37, 46, and 47. They show some degree of abrasion.

The right leg still has some flesh and skin covering the bone, with a few straggling bandages remaining. It is preserved with the exception of the middle part of the femur. The bandages closest to the skin on both legs are dark with oils and resins. The ones further from the skin are brown-beige. The left leg is better preserved. It is possible that part of the genitals (portion of the penis) is preserved, but the soft tissues are difficult to identify, partially due to postmortem damage. The legs show that the individual was probably rather plump during his lifetime as the flesh was folded over at various places.

An inconclusive alteration of the left iliac fossa (area of origin of iliac muscle) can be seen possible differential diagnoses include those of taphonomic origin (crusts due to water/sand) or to be a periosteal reaction such as a calcified hematoma, though the latter is visually unlikely.

The remnants appear rather female, but it is quite uncertain. It is an adult individual of unknown age, based on the degree of dental alterations most likely within the adult age group (ca. 20–30 yrs). The left medial tibial length is ca. 340 mm thus, an estimated stature of ca. 155 cm [17] can be assumed for a male individual.

The X-rays show a.o. the cervical spine to be preserved up to the 6th cervical vertebra. A massive soft tissue lesion can be found frontally, with particularly a fractured upper jaw. A fracture and impression of the frontoparietal bones with some bony parts within the skull can also be found. All traumata seem to be of postmortem nature. In the posterior part of the skull, one finds an inhomogeneous substance with no obvious fluid levels these are most likely remnants of the brain.

4. Discussion

Despite being unnamed and only loosely dated, the human remains from KV 31 are useful and significant subjects of study as they provide insight into the mummification practices of mid-18th dynasty elite individuals and into the turbulent later history of the necropolis. The various intense looting phases hamper, however, the analysis of the mummies. The unwrapping of the bodies as well as much of the damage is most probably due to the activity of retrieving valuables and wood at the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period, whereas the scattering of the body parts and the theft of specific mummified body parts (head, hands) can presumably be attributed to robbers of the 19th century AD who sold these pieces to the early tourists. As stated above, these bodies must belong either to members of the royal family or to elite individuals who were in personal contact with the pharaoh. Based on the number of large storage jars found in the tomb, it can be assumed that all five individuals were originally buried here.

All the bodies were carefully mummified, being eviscerated, well desiccated, anointed with oils, and then wrapped with generous amounts of linen. Due to the destructive activities of robbers, one cannot determine the exacte position of the evisceration incision on most of the mummies.

The arm positions for all those whose arms seem to follow the traditional division that was common throughout the New Kingdom and into the Third Intermediate Period, if not beyond: along the sides for women, and over the pubes for men. There is, however, one exception, mummy C3, whose arms are crossed over his chest, with the surviving hand posed as if it had been gripping something. This pose, from the mid-Eighteenth dynasty to the end of the New Kingdom was regularly applied for kings it became more frequent in later periods. It is, however, still difficult to relate arm positions of mummies to a specific social status or historical period with any degree of certainty. There is, for example, hardly any information available concerning the arm position of royal sons in the 18th dynasty. Also sexing and ageing is difficult to assess due to the partial destruction (and in some cases even crucial missing body parts) and the limited quality of conventional X-rays as well as the superimposition of embalming-related artifacts. Thus, the data need to be taken with enormous caution for these individual criteria. However, in general the bodies seem to be all of adult age. A higher-quality diagnostic imaging approach such as, for example, by CT scanning shall help to better determine individual sex and age and allow an improved evaluation of individual health and disease the goal of the current excavation project is to get approval for such an advanced logistically more challenging imaging attempt in one of the future field seasons.

The lack of clear medical diagnosis is caused by various factors. Some of the human remains are still wrapped and thus any macroscopic investigation of tissues is impossible. Also, the enormous postmortem damage caused by tomb robbers and the numerous subsequent fractures make a clear distinction of pre- and postmortem origin of the numerous skeletal lesions de facto impossible. Finally, more sophisticated examinations methods were not available in situ.

Future studies shall hopefully include ancient DNA analyses as well as C 14 dating of some of these mummies to possibly match them with existing New Kingdom royal mummy data (e.g., [21]). Especially, a more precise reconstruction of embalming techniques may help to set these individuals into a more exact historical context. Finally, the hereby-described unique human remains show again that the famous Valley of the Kings is still “not exhausted” and may also in the future reveal more insight into ancient life conditions and funerary customs.

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.


The authors are grateful to Dr. W. R. Johnson, director of Chicago House, Luxor, for graciously permitting the use of Chicago House and its darkroom and are very especially thankful to Y. Kobylecky, photographer at Chicago House, for his expertise and generosity in the development of the radiographs and to the Institute of Bioarchaeology of the American University Cairo for the use of its radiographic equipment as well as KD Dr. T. Böni, Orthopaedic University Clinic Balgrist Zurich, for some helpful comments on interpretation of conventional X-rays. This research is funded by the Mäxi Foundation Zurich (Frank Rühli) and the Basel University and private sponsors (Susanne Bickel). Special thanks go to the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Egyptian Ministry of State of Antiquities, and its numerous officers who supported and accompanied the authors’ work.


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Copyright © 2015 Frank Rühli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Mysterious ancient Egyptian legs likely Queen Nefertari’s knees

In 1904, the pioneering Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli cracked open a tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens. The crypt, which had been lost for millennia, showed signs of long-ago disaster. Two things were clear to the archaeologist: This tomb was once the final resting place of Queen Nefertari. And, plunderers looted the burial site in antiquity, possibly within a few hundred years of its royal inhabitant’s death.

The 3,200-year-old room was ransacked to its walls. The chamber, once covered in murals memorializing the queen’s beauty, was two-thirds bare. The pillagers left behind broken furniture, and reduced her rose granite sarcophagus to pieces.

Not everything, however, was destroyed.

The surviving wall paintings, of the queen and a menagerie of animal-headed gods, have been described as the ancient Egyptian equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. Schiaparelli recovered an enamel disk bearing the name of King Ay, a few dozen figurines and some cracked vases. He found a pair of sandals. And in the funeral chamber sat a pair of mummified legs, little more than knees connected to fragments of femur and tibia.

Since the time of Schiaparelli’s discovery, most archeologists assumed that the legs were the last surviving remains of Nefertari. The queen lived in the 13th century B.C. Though her husband, Pharoah Ramses II, had many wives and children – he fathered about 100 descendants – Nefertari was his favorite consort. (As evidence, archeologists point to her lavish tomb as well as a temple Ramses II dedicated in her honor.)

But it would take more than a hundred years, an international team of scientists say, for the assumption about Nefertari’s legs to become scientific probability. They are quite likely the queen’s knees, according to the group of archaeologists and chemists who recently published an analysis in the journal PLOS One.

Simply because the legs were found in the tomb was not conclusive, argued study author Joann Fletcher, an Egyptologist at the University of York, Britain.

“We had no way of knowing if these were Nefertari’s remains or not,” Fletcher said to NPR. “They could have been washed into the tomb at a later date during one of these occasional flash floods that do occur in that part of Egypt.”

The scientists performed a detailed X-ray exam of the legs. The images indicate the remains came from the same body, and likely belonged to a person who died between the age of 40 and 60. Due to the thinness of the bones, the scientists posit these were “high status” knees, not those of a laborer who lived outdoors.

Comparing the knees to modern and ancient bone samples, the researchers estimated the person was about five-feet, four-inches tall. This is taller than most ancient Egyptian women and the same height as the average ancient Greek or Egyptian men. (Nefertari was, by the wall mural’s accounting, statuesque.) The elaborate sandals, the study authors wrote with a “certain reservation,” would have fit a woman about five-and-a-half feet tall.

DNA tests on 1-centimeter-square slices of skin and muscle were inconclusive. But a chemical analysis of the embalming agents uncovered animal fat and little else, consistent with mummification practices during the time of Ramses II. And radiocarbon dating ruled out an older burial, or the idea that remains wound up in the queenly tomb much later in history.

All told, the study authors say the clues stacked up in Nefertari’s favor. “Thus, the most likely scenario is that the mummified knees truly belong to Queen Nefertari,” they wrote. “Although this identification is highly likely, no absolute certainty exists.”

(CC 2016 Habicht et al./PLOS One)

(To that point, a University of Liverpool archaeologist told the Guardian that a lack of DNA results did not push the conversation beyond the starting assumption: that the bones, found in the queen’s tomb, were her legs.)

At the same time, the fractured bones and missing remains came with a grim corollary. The scientists believe robbers quickly stripped the dead queen of her raiments, dismembering her mummy as though it was some sort of pharaonic piñata. The shredded legs were left behind after everything else of value was taken.

“You do get that feeling that there’s a real degree of ripping apart human remains to get to the wealth,” Fletcher said to NPR.

As advanced CT scans and other analytical techniques become cheaper and more widely available, scientists are able to non-invasively tease out secrets locked within ancient sarcophagi. In what was long thought a jar of organs, Cambridge archaeologists discovered a tiny Egyptian mummy in May. The embalmed fetus, as young as 16 weeks, is the smallest yet found.

A few months later, Dutch museum curators were shocked to see the bodies of 47 mummified infant crocodiles lining the walls of a sarcophagus. The curators were expecting to find just two adolescent reptiles.

Part 2: Mummies in North America


Lexington, in Kentucky, stands nearly on the site of an ancient town, which was of great extent and magnificence, as is amply evinced by the wide range of its circumvalliatory works, and the quantity of ground it once occupied.

There was connected with the antiquities of this place, a catacomb, formed in the bowels of the limestone rock, about fifteen feet below the surface of the earth, adjacent to the town of Lexington. This grand object, so novel and extraordinary in this country, was discovered in 1775, by some of the first settlers, whose curiosity was excited by something remarkable in the character of the stones which covered the entrance to the cavern within. They removed these stones, and came to others of singular appearance for stones in a natural state the removal of which laid open the mouth a cave, deep, gloomy, and terrific, as they supposed.

With augmented numbers, and provided with light, they descended and entered, without obstruction, a spacious apartment the sides and extreme ends were formed into niches and compartments, and occupied by figures representing men. When alarm subsided, and the sentiment of dismay and surprise permitted further research and inquiry, the figures were found to be mummies, preserved by the art of embalming, to as great a state of perfection as was known among the ancient Egyptians, eighteen hundred years before the Christian era which was about the time that the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, when this art was in its perfection. * * * * * On this subject Mr. Ash has the following reflections: “How these bodies were embalmed, how long preserved, by what nations, and from what people descended, no opinion made, but what must result from speculative fancy and wild conjecture. For my part, I am lost in the deepest ignorance. My reading affords me no knowledge, my travels no light. I have neither read nor known of any of the North American Indians who formed catacombs for their dead, or who were acquainted with the art of preservation by embalming.

Had Mr. Ash in his researches consulted the Book of Mormon his problem would have been solved, and he would have found no difficulty in accounting for the mummies being found in the above mentioned case. The Book of Mormon gives an account of a number of the descendants of Israel coming to this continent and it is well known that the art of embalming was known among the Hebrews, as well as among the Egyptians, although perhaps not so generally among the former, as among the latter people and their method of embalming also might be different from that of the Egyptians.

Jacob and Joseph were no doubt, embalmed in the manner of the Egyptians, as they died in that country, Gen. 1, 2, 3, 26. When our Saviour [Savior] was crucified his hasty burial obliged them only to wrap his body in linen with a hundred pounds of myrrh, aloes, and similar spices, (part of the ingredients of embalming.) given by Nicodemus for that purpose: but Mary and other holy women had prepared ointment and spices for embalming it, Matt. xxviii. 59: Luke xxiii. 56: John xxx. 39-40.

This art was no doubt transmitted from Jerusalem to this continent, by the before mentioned emigrants, which accounts for the finding of the mummies, and at the same time is another strong evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.-[ED.
Source: Times and Seasons “Truth will prevail” Vol. III. No. 13] . CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL,. MAY 2, 1842 [Whole No. 49 Joseph Smith Editorializing from Ancient Antiquities Page 110-112 2 May 1842: Times and Seasons— Evidence from Kentucky



A shelter cave was discovered near San Jose, in California, by Dr. Stephen Bowers. It contained a number of baskets, in which were bundles of painted sticks, covered with peculiar signs, probably the outfit of a modern ”medicine man.” Caves have also been found in Utah, but as the remains of man were associated with ears of corn and other relics, we conclude that they were extremely modern. There were Cave-dwellers in the Mound-builders’ territory. Prof. Putnam has described several in Tennessee. There were mummies in one of these caves, dessicated bodies of natives which had been deposited, but which the salt had preserved, making them to resemble mummies. Some of these bodies were covered with feather headdresses and feathered robes and other equipments, resembling those used by later races. Page 10

The part which the Mound-builders performed in connection with the neolithic age. The Mound builders, in a technical sense, are to be confined to the Mississippi Valley. There are, to be sure, many mounds and earth-works on the northwest coast, others in Utah, and still others scattered among the civilized races in Mexico, but the Mound-builders as such were the inhabitants of this valley. We shall see the extent of their territory if we take the mounds of the Red River Valley as one stream and follow the line across the different districts until we reach the mounds of Florida. This is the length of their territory north and south the breadth could be indicated by the Allegheny mountains upon the east and the foot-hills of the Rocky mountains upon the west, for all this range of territory belonged to the Mound-builders.

Within this territory we have the copper mines of Lake Superior, 1 the salt mines of Illinois and Kentucky, 2 the garden beds of Michigan, 3 the pipe-stone quarries of Minnesota, 4 the extensive potteries of Missouri, 5 the stone graves of Illinois, 6 the work-shops, the stone cairns, the stone walls, the ancient roadways, and the old walled towns of Georgia, 7 the hut rings of Arkansas, 8 the shelter-caves of Ten nessee and Ohio, 9 the mica mines in South Carolina, 10 the quarries in Flint Ridge in Ohio, 11 the ancient hearths ot Ohio, 12 the bone beds 13 and alabaster caves in Indiana, 14 the shell-heaps of Florida, 15 oil wells and ancient mines, and the rock inscriptions 16 which are scattered over the territory everywhere.

We ascribe all of these to the Mound-builders and conclude that they were worked by this people, for the relics from the a rude people, whose remains are buried in the debris, for layers of ashes have been found having great depths. The fire beds and stone graves have been found at various depths beneath the river bottoms. Miami Gazette. Jan. 20, 1892. See Smithsonian Report, 1874. R. S. Robinson Peabody Museum, 8th Report, F. W. Putnam. The Mammoth cave and other deep caves have yielded mummies and other remains which may have belonged to this antecedent period . Collins’ History of Kentucky. Page 36


We propose in this chapter to take up the burial mounds in the United States and study them as monuments. The term is very appropriate, since they, in common with all other funereal structures, were evidently erected as monuments, which were sacred to the memory of the dead. Whatever we may say about them as works of architecture, they are certainly monumental in design. It is a singular fact that mounds have everywhere been erected for this purpose. We read in Homer that a mound was built over the grave of Patroclus, and that the memorial of this friend of Alneas was only a heap of earth. The name of Buddha, the great Egyptian divinity, has also been perpetuated in the same way. There are great topes, conical structures, in various parts of Asia, which contain nothing more than a fabled tooth of the great incarnate divinity of the East, but the outer surface of these topes is very imposing. The pyramids of Fgypt were erected for the same purpose. Some of them contain the mummies of the kings by whose orders they were erected. Some of them have empty tombs, and yet they are all monuments to the dead. It was a universal custom among the primitive races to erect such memorials to the dead. The custom continued, even when the races had passed out from their primitive condition, but was modified. The earth heaps gave place to stone structures , either menhirs or standing stones, cairns, cromlechs, dolmens, triliths. stone circles, and various other rude stone monuments, though all of these may have been more the tokens of the bronze age than of the stone age. We make this distinction between the ages: during the paleolithic age there were no burial heaps the bodies were placed in graves, or perished without burial. During the neolithic age the custom of burying in earth heaps was the most common, though it varied according to circumstances. During the bronze age stone monuments were the most numerous. When the iron age was introduced the the modern custom of erecting definite architectural structures appeared. The prevalence of the earthworks in the United States as burial places shows that the races were here in the stone age , but the difference between these will illustrate the different conditions through which the people passed during that age.

Incidentally, Colonel Bennett Young states that several mummies have been found in the caves in Kentucky encased in clothing. The cave which has yielded the most material of any which we have personally investigated is at Mills Spring in Wayne County about half-way between Burnside and Monticello. The cave is located on the farm of Hon. J. S. Hines and is known locally as the “Hines Cave.” This region is rather famous historically since it is adjacent to Price’s Meadow and Mills Spring where the “Long Hunters” who came to Kentucky from Virginia and North Carolina about 1770 are supposed to have camped for two years or more. Zollicoffer’s entrenchments are still visible across the Cumberland River.

The cave itself is extensive and is ideally situated for habitation. The land slopes from it gradually to the river, providing an excellent place for the cultivation of crops the entrance to the cave is wide and high and the first chamber to which it leads is roomy and dry the mouth is flanked by high cliffs which protect it from wind, rain and snow the bottom is level and the light penetrates for a considerable distance from the entrance. Altogether it affords a shelter which must have been most desirable to a primitive race.

North America’s oldest mummy returned to US tribe after genome sequencing. DNA proves Native American roots of 10,600-year-old skeleton.

The sequencing of a 10,600-year-old genome has settled a lengthy legal dispute over who should own the oldest mummy in North America — and given scientists a rare insight into early inhabitants of the Americas.

The controversy centred on the ‘Spirit Cave Mummy’, a human skeleton unearthed in 1940 in northwest Nevada. The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe has long argued that it should be given the remains for reburial, whereas the US government opposed repatriation. Now, genetic analysis has proved that the skeleton is more closely related to contemporary Native Americans than to other global populations. The mummy was handed over to the tribe on 22 November.

The genome of the Spirit Cave Mummy is significant because it could help to reveal how ancient humans settled the Americas, says Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “It’s been a quest for a lot of geneticists to understand what the earliest peoples here looked like,” she says. Source:

Related stories

The case follows the US government’s decision this year that another controversial skeleton, an 8,500-year-old human known as Kennewick Man, is Native American and qualifies for repatriation on the basis of genome sequencing. Some researchers lament such decisions because the buried skeletons are then unavailable for scientific study. But others point out that science could benefit if Native American tribes use ancient DNA to secure the return of more remains, because this may deliver long-sought data on the peopling of the region. “At least we get the knowledge before the remains are put back in the ground,” says Steven Simms, an archaeologist at Utah State University in Logan, who has studied the Spirit Cave Mummy. “We’ve got a lot of material in this country that’s been repatriated and never will be available to science.”

EMINA is a searchable database of Egyptian mummy resources in North America, compiled by S.J. Wolfe (Mummies in Nineteenth Century America Ancient Egyptians as Artifacts McFarland, 2009) from thousands of digitized articles in newspapers, periodicals and books, as well as web sites, personal recollections, correspondences, and regular print resources.

The Spirit Cave Mummy is the oldest known mummy in the world. It was first discovered in 1940 by Sydney and Georgia Wheeler, a husband and wife archaeological team. The Spirit Cave Mummy was naturally preserved by the heat and aridity of the cave it was found in.

In 1997, the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of Nevada’s Fallon Reservation enacted The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) to claim the Spirit Cave Mummy’s remains. For nearly two decades the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe fought a legal battle against the U.S. government, who did not want to return the mummy. In 2016 the mummy was finally returned to the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, after its DNA was sequenced to determine that he was related to contemporary Native Americans.

The mysterious Fawn Hoof Mummy: Ancient Egyptian Presence in North America

This fascinating mummy was found over 200 years ago in one of the largest cave systems in America: The Mammoth Cave. There, miners discovered an extremely well-preserved mummy with red hair prepared and embalmed in an eerily similar way as the ancient Egyptians. After examining the mummy in the late 1800’s, the Smithsonian Institute ‘lost’ the mummy.

Some 200 years ago, a very unusual mummy was discovered in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

There are a couple of things about the mummy which completely challenge what we have taught to believe about history books, especially about the ability and accomplishments of the Ancient Egyptians, their intrepid transoceanic voyages and their influence in other ancient cultures.

The mummy known as Fawn Hoof is considered by many as evidence that history books are wrong and that we are being given filtered information when it comes to ancient civilizations and the origins of mankind.

The mummy was mentioned in the book Prehistoric Mummies from the Mammoth Cave Area, by Angelo I. George where the author indicates that the mummy was found in the cave in September of 1811.

According to George, the Ancient mummy was given the name “Fawn Hoof” in 1815 and that ‘thousands’ of people saw the mummy as it was put on display. But what’s the story behind the mummy and why is it so important?

Sometime between Between 1811 and 1813 (different authors vary on the date, a group of miners were working inside one of the Kentucky caves known as Short Cave. One of the workers, who was excavating, came across a hard surface which proved to be a large rock with a flat surface.

After miners had removed the rock they discovered a crypt that contained a mummy inside. But it wasn’t an ordinary mummy. In the past, such discoveries were not given much importance and people looked to make a profit out of history.

In 1816, Nahum Ward from Ohio visited the cave, purchased numerous artifacts and the Fawn Hoof Mummy. In addition to the Fawn Hoof Mummy, Ward also purchased other mummies and some of them were over reportedly 2500 years old.

Years went by and the collection purchased by Ward was placed in a traveling exhibition of rarities. Through the years, the Fawn Hoof Mummy traveled across the country. It was first taken to Lexington, Kentucky and later transferred to the American Antiquarian Society.

In 1876 the Fawn Hoof Mummy was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution by Isaiah Thomas, founder of the American Antiquarian Society. Due to the fact that the mummy was inadequately cared for and because it was transported a lot, the mummy suffered damage.

Researchers at the Smithsonian examined the mummy, dissected it and reported their findings. At some point after that –like many other things that challenge history— the Fawn Hoof Mummy was completely lost. According to initial reports, the mummy was found to have been a woman of around six feet in height. The mummy was wrapped in deerskin, which in turn was decorated with leaf and vine patterns.

The mummy was found to be in an extremely well-preserved condition even though the mummy was not analyzed by researchers for over 60 years after it was initially found. Among the more unusual finding was the fact that this mummy-like other mummies found in Peru and Bolivia in recent times— had red hair.

It was concluded that the hair was cut to a length of an eighth of an inch, except for the back of the mummy’s head where the hair was about two inches long. Based on the artifacts found where the mummy was buried, it is believed that the woman was of great importance in ancient times.

However, researchers noted that among the most fascinating details about the Fawn Hoof Mummy is the fact that it was prepared and embalmed in an eerily similar way as the ancient Egyptians used to. Reports indicate that the hands, ears, fingers, and the rest of the body were dried, but extremely well preserved.

But how is it possible that the mummy was lost? Is it possible that the mummy challenged historical doctrines set into place by certain institutions?

Many people believe that the Fawn Hoof Mummy is one of the many indicators which proves that thousands of years ago, before written history, ancient cultures around the globe were intricately connected and that transoceanic voyages occurred much sooner than mainstream scholars are willing to accept.

Native American Nations

In connection with cave burial, the subject of mummifying or embalming the dead may be taken up, as most specimens of the kind have generally been found in such repositories. It might be both interesting and instructive to search out and discuss the causes which have led many nations or tribes to adopt certain processes with a view to prevent that return to dust which all flesh must sooner or later experience, but the necessarily limited scope of this preliminary work precludes more than a brief mention of certain theories advanced by writers of note, and which relate to the ancient Egyptians. Possibly at the time the Indians of America sought to preserve their dead from decomposition some such ideas may have animated them, but on this point no definite information has been procured. In the final volume an effort will be made to trace out the origin of mummification among the Indians and aborigines of this continent.
The Egyptians embalmed, according to Cassien, because during the time of the annual inundation no interments could take place, but it is more than likely that this hypothesis is entirely fanciful. It is said by others they believed that so long as the body was preserved from corruption the soul remained in it. Herodotus states that it was to prevent bodies from becoming a prey to animal voracity. “They did not inter them,” says he, “for fear of their being eaten by worms nor did they burn, considering fire as a ferocious beast, devouring everything which it touched.” According to Diodorus of Sicily, embalmment originated in filial piety and respect. De Maillet, however, in his tenth letter on Egypt, attributes it entirely to a religious belief insisted upon by the wise men and priests, who taught their disciples that after a certain number of cycles, of perhaps thirty or forty thousand years, the entire universe became as it was at birth, and the souls of the dead returned into the same bodies in which they had lived, provided that the body remained free from corruption, and that sacrifices were freely offered as oblations to the manes of the deceased. Considering the great care taken to preserve the dead, and the ponderously solid nature of their tombs, it is quite evident that this theory obtained many believers among the people. M. Gannal believes embalmment to have been suggested by the affectionate sentiments of our nature–a desire to preserve as long as possible the mortal remains of loved ones but MM. Volney and Pariaet think it was intended to obviate, in hot climates especially, danger from pestilence, being primarily a cheap and simple process, elegance and luxury coming later and the Count de Caylus states the idea of embalmment was derived from the finding of desiccated bodies which the burning sands of Egypt had hardened and preserved. Many other suppositions have arisen, but it is thought the few given above are sufficient to serve as an introduction to embalmment in North America.
From the statements of the older writers on North American Indians, it appears that mummifying was resorted to among certain tribes of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida, especially for people of distinction, the process in Virginia for the kings, according to Beverly, [Footnote: Hist. of Virginia, 1722, p 185] being as follows:
“ The “Indians” are religious in preserving the Corpses of their Kings and Rulers after Death, which they order in the following manner: First, they neatly flay off the Skin as entire as they can, slitting it only in the Back then they pick all the Flesh off from the Bones as clean as possible, leaving the Sinews fastened to the Bones, that they may preserve the Joints together: then they dry the Bones in the Sun, and put them into the Skin again, which in the mean time has been kept from drying or shrinking when the Bones are placed right in the Skin, they nicely fill up the Vacuities, with a very fine white Sand. After this they sew up the Skin again, and the Body looks as if the Flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep the Skin from shrinking, by the help of a little Oil or Grease, which saves it also from Corruption. The Skin being thus prepar’d, they lay it in an apartment for that purpose, upon a large Shelf rais’d above the Floor. This Shelf is spread with Mats, for the Corpse to rest easy on, and skreened with the same, to keep it from the Dust. The Flesh they lay upon Hurdles in the Sun to dry, and when it is thoroughly dried, it is sewed up in a Basket, and set at the Feet of the Corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they set up a “Quioccos,” or Idol, which they believe will be a Guard to the Corpse. Here Night and Day one or other of the Priests must give his Attendance, to take care of the dead Bodies. So great an Honour and Veneration have these ignorant and unpolisht People for their Princes even after they are dead.”
It should be added that, in the writer’s opinion, this account and others like it are somewhat apocryphal, and it has been copied and recopied a score of times.
According to Pinkerton [Footnote: Collection of Voyages, 1812, vol. XIII, p 39.], the Werowanco preserved their dead as follows:
“By him is commonly the sepulcher of their Kings. Their bodies are first bowelled, then dried upon hurdles till they be very dry, and so about the most of their joints and neck they hang bracelets, or chains of copper, pearl, and such like, as they used to wear. Their inwards they stuff with copper beads, hatchets, and such trash. Then lap they them very carefully in white skins, and so roll them in mats for their winding-sheets. And in the tomb, which is an arch made of mats, they lay them orderly. What remained of this kind of wealth their Kings have, they set at their feet in baskets. These temples and bodies are kept by their priests.
“For their ordinary burials, they dig a deep hole in the earth with sharp stakes, and the corpse being lapped in skins and mats with their jewels they lay them upon sticks in the ground, and so cover them with earth. The burial ended, the women being painted all their faces with black coal and oil do sit twenty-four hours in the houses mourning and lamenting by turns with such yelling and howling as may express their great passions.
“Upon the top of certain red sandy hills in the woods there are three great houses filled with images of their Kings and devils and tombs of their predecessors. Those houses are near sixty feet in length, built harbor wise after their building. This place they count so holy as that but the priests and Kings dare come into them nor the savages dare not go up the river in boats by it, but they solemnly cast some piece of copper, white beads, or pocones into the river for fear their Okee should be offended and revenged of them.
“They think that their Werowances and priests which they also esteem quiyoughcosughs, when they are dead do go beyond the mountains towards the setting of the sun, and ever remain there in form of their Okee, with their heads painted red with oil and pocones, finely trimmed with feathers, and shall have beads, hatchets, copper, and tobacco, doing nothing but dance and sing with all their predecessors. But the common people they suppose shall not live after death, but rot in their graves like dead dogs.”
The remark regarding truthfulness will apply to this account in common with the former.
The Congaree or Santee Indians of South Carolina, according to Lawson, used a process of partial embalmment, as will be seen from the subjoined extract from Schoolcraft [Footnote: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1854, Part IV, p. 155, et seq] but instead of laying away the remains in caves, placed them in boxes supported above the ground by crotched sticks.
“ The manner of their interment is thus: A mole or pyramid of earth is raised, the mould thereof being worked very smooth and even, sometimes higher or lower, according to the dignity of the person whose monument it is. On the top thereof is an umbrella, made ridgeways, like the roof of a house. This is supported by nine stakes or small posts, the grave being about 6 or 8 feet in length and 4 feet in breadth, about which is hung gourds, feathers, and other such like trophies, placed there by the dead man’s relations in respect to him in the grave. The other parts of the funeral rites are thus: As soon as the party is dead they lay the corpse upon a piece of bark in the sun, seasoning or embalming it with a small root beaten to powder, which looks as red as vermilion the same is mixed with bear’s oil to beautify the hair. After the carcass has laid a day or two in the sun they remove it and lay it upon crotches cut on purpose for the support thereof from the earth then they anoint it all over with the aforementioned ingredients of the powder of this root and bear’s oil. When it is so done they cover it over very exactly with the bark of the pine or cypress tree to prevent any rain to fall upon it, sweeping the ground very clean all about it. Some of his nearest of kin brings all the temporal estate he was possessed of at his death, as guns, bows and arrows, beads, feathers, match coat etc. This relation is the chief mourner, being clad in moss, with a stick in his hand, keeping a mournful ditty for three or four days, his face being black with the smoke of pitch pine mixed with bear’s oil. All the while he tells the dead mans relations and the rest of the spectators who that dead person was, and of the great feats performed in his lifetime, all that he speaks tending to the praise of the defunct. As soon as the flesh grows mellow and will cleave from the bone they get it off and burn it, making the bones very clean then anoint them with the ingredients aforesaid, wrapping up the skull (very carefully) in a cloth artificially woven of opossum’s hair. T he bones they carefully preserve in a wooden box, every year oiling and cleansing them. By these means they preserve them for many ages that you may see an Indian in possession of the bones of his grandfather or some of his relations of a longer antiquity. They have other sorts of tombs as when an Indian is slain in, that very place they make a heap of stones (or sticks where stones are not to be found), to this memorial every Indian that passes by adds a stone to augment the heap in respect to the deceased hero. The Indians make a roof of light wood or pitch pine over the graves of the more distinguished, covering it with bark and then with earth leaving the body thus in a subterranean vault until the flesh quits the bones. The bones are then taken up, cleaned, jointed, clad in white dressed deer skins, and laid away in the “Quiogozon,” which is the royal tomb or burial place of their kings and war captains, being a more magnificent cabin reared at the public expense. This Quiogozon is an object of veneration, in which the writer says he has known the king, old men, and conjurers to spend several days with their idols and dead kings, and into which he could never gain admittance.”

Another class of mummies are those which have been found in the saltpeter and other caves of Kentucky, and it is still a matter of doubt with archaeologists whether any special pains were taken to preserve these bodies, many believing that the impregnation of the soil with certain minerals would account for the condition in which the specimens were found. Charles Wilkins [Footnote: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. 1, p. 360] thus describes one: “exsiccated body of a female … was found at the depth of about 10 feet from the surface of the cave bedded in clay strongly impregnated with nitre, placed in a sitting posture, incased in broad stones standing on their edges, with a flat stone covering the whole. It was enveloped in coarse clothes, … the whole wrapped in deer- skins, the hair of which was shaved off in the manner in which the Indians prepare them for market. Enclosed in the stone coffin were the working utensils, beads, feathers, and other ornaments of dress which belonged to her.”
The next description is by Dr Samuel L. Mitchill: [Footnote: Trans. and Coll. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. 1, p. 318]
[A letter from Dr. Mitchill of New York, to Samuel M. Burnside, Esq., Secretary of the American Antiquarian Society, on North American Antiquities.]

“DEAR SIR: I offer you some observations on a curious piece of American antiquity now in New York, It is a human body [Footnote: A mummy of this kind, of a person of mature age, discovered in Kentucky, is now in the cabinet of the American Antiquarian Society. It is a female. Several human bodies were found enwrapped carefully in skins and cloths. They were inhumed below the floor of the cave, “inhumed”, and not lodged in catacombs.] found in one of the limestone caverns of Kentucky. It is a perfect exsiccation, all the fluids are dried up. The skin, bones, and other firm parts are in a state of entire preservation. I think it enough to have puzzled Bryant and all the archeologists.
“This was found in exploring a calcareous cave in the neighborhood of Glasgow for saltpeter.
“These recesses, though under ground, are yet dry enough to attract and retain the nitric acid. It combines with lime and potash, and probably the earthy matter of these excavations contains a good proportion of calcareous carbonate. Amidst these drying and antiseptic ingredients, it may be conceived that putrefaction would be stayed, and the solids preserved from decay. The outer envelope of the body is a deer skin, probably dried in the usual way and perhaps softened before its application by rubbing. The next covering is a deer’s skin, whose hair had been cut away by a sharp instrument resembling a hatter’s knife. The remnant of the hair and the gashes in the skin nearly resemble a sheared pelt of beaver. The next wrapper is of cloth made of twine doubled and twisted. But the thread does not appear to have been formed by the wheel, nor the web by the loom. The warp and filling seem to have been crossed and knotted by an operation like that of the fabricks of the northwest coast, and of the Sandwich islands. Such a botanist as the lamented Muhlenburgh could determine the plant which furnished the fibrous material.
“The innermost tegument is a mantle of cloth like the preceding, but furnished with large brown feathers arranged and fastened with great art so as to be capable of guarding the living wearer from wet and cold. The plumage is distinct and entire, and the whole bears a near similitude to the feathery cloaks now worn by the nations of the northwestern coast of America. A Wilson might tell from what bird they were derived.
“The body is in a squatting posture with the right arm reclining forward and its hand encircling the right leg. The left arm hangs down, with its hand inclined partly under the seat. The individual, who was a male did not probably exceed the age of fourteen, at his death. There is near the occiput a deep and extensive fracture of the skull, which probably killed him. The skin has sustained little injury, it is of a dusky color, but the natural hue cannot be decided with exactness from its present appearance. The scalp, with small exceptions is cohered with sorrel or foxy hair. The teeth are white and sound. The hands and feet, in their shriveled state, are slender and delicate. All this is worthy the investigation of our acute and perspicacious colleague, Dr Holmes.

“There is nothing bituminous or aromatic in or about the body, like the Egyptian mummies, nor are there bandages around any part. Except the several wrappers, the body is totally naked. There is no sign of a suture or incision about the belly whence it seems that the viscera were not removed.
“It may now be expected that I should offer some opinion, as to the antiquity and race of this singular exsiccation.
“First, then, I am satisfied that it does not belong to that class of white men of which we are members.
𔄚dly. Nor do I believe that it ought to be referred to the bands of Spanish adventurers, who, between the years 1500 and 1600, rambled up the Mississippi, and along its tributary streams. But on this head I should like to know the opinion of my learned and sagacious friend, Noah Webster.
𔄛dly. I am equally obliged to reject the opinion that it belonged to any of the tribes of aborigines, now or lately inhabiting Kentucky.
𔄜thly. The mantle of the feathered work, and the mantle of twisted threads, so nearly resemble the fabricks of the indigines of Wakash and the Pacifick islands, that I refer this individual to that era of time, and that generation of men, which preceded the Indians of the Green River, and of the place where these relics were found. This conclusion is strengthened by the consideration that such manufactures are not prepared by the actual and resident red men of the present day. If the Abbe Clavigero had had this case before him, he would have thought of the people who constructed those ancient forts and mounds, whose exact history no man living can give. But I forbear to enlarge my intention being merely to manifest my respect to the society for having enrolled me among its members, and to invite the attention of its Antiquarians to further inquiry on a subject of such curiosity.

“With respect, I remain yours,

It would appear from recent researches on the Northwest coast that the natives of that region embalmed their dead with much care, as may be seen from the work recently published by W. H. Dall, [Footnote: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. 1, p. 89] the description of the mummies being as follows:
“We found the dead disposed of in various ways first, by interment in their compartments of the communal dwelling, as already described second, by being laid on a rude platform of drift-wood or stones in some convenient rock shelter. These lay on straw and moss, covered by matting, and rarely have either implements, weapons, or carvings associated with them. We found only three or four specimens in all in these places, of which we examined a great number. This was apparently the more ancient form of disposing of the dead, and one which more recently was still pursued in the case of poor or unpopular individuals.
“Lastly, in comparatively modern times, probably within a few centuries, and up to the historic period (1740), another mode was adopted for the wealthy, popular, or more distinguished class . The bodies were eviscerated, cleansed from fatty matters in running water, dried, and usually placed in suitable cases in wrappings of fur and fine grass matting The body was usually doubled up into the smallest compass, and the mummy case, especially in the case of children, was usually suspended (so as not to touch the ground) in some convenient rock shelter. Sometimes, however, the prepared body was placed in a lifelike position, dressed and armed. They were placed as if engaged in some congenial occupation, such as hunting, fishing, sewing, etc. With them were also placed effigies of the animals they were pursuing, while the hunter was dressed in his wooden armor and provided with an enormous mask, all ornamented with feathers and a countless variety of wooden pendants, colored in gay patterns. All the carvings were of wood, the weapons even were only facsimiles in wood of the original articles. Among the articles represented were drums, rattles, dishes, weapons, effigies of men, birds, fish, and animals, wooden armor of rods or scales of wood, and remarkable masks, so arranged that the wearer when erect could only see the ground at his feet. These were worn at their religious dances from an idea that a spirit which was supposed to animate a temporary idol was fatal to whoever might look upon it while so occupied. An extension of the same idea led to the masking of those who had gone into the land of spirits.
“The practice of preserving the bodies of those belonging to the whaling class–a custom peculiar to the Kadiak Innuit–has erroneously been confounded with the one now described. The latter included women as well as men, and all those whom the living desired particularly to honor. The whalers, however, only preserved the bodies of males, and they were not associated with the paraphernalia of those I have described. Indeed, the observations I have been able to make show the bodies of the whalers to have been preserved with stone weapons and actual utensils instead of effigies, and with the meanest apparel, and no carvings of consequence. These details, and those of many other customs and usages of which the shell heaps bear no testimony … do not come within my line.”
Martin Sauer, secretary to Billings’ Expedition [Footnote: Billings’ Exped. 1802, p. 167.] in 1802, speaks of the Aleutian Islanders embalming their dead, as follows:
“They pay respect, however, to the memory of the dead, for they embalm the bodies of the men with dried moss and grass bury them in their best attire, in a sitting posture, in a strong box, with their darts and instruments and decorate the tomb with various colored mats, embroidery, and paintings. With women, indeed, they use less ceremony. A mother will keep a dead child thus embalmed in their hut for some months, constantly wiping it dry and they bury it when it begins to smell, or when they get reconciled to parting with it.”
Regarding these same people, a writer in the San Francisco Bulletin gives this account:
“The schooner William Sutton, belonging to the Alaska Commercial Company, has arrived from the seal islands of the company with the mummified remains of Indians who lived on an island north of Ounalaska one hundred and fifty years ago. This contribution to science was secured by Captain Henning, an agent of the company, who has long resided at Ounalaska. In his transactions with the Indians he learned that tradition among the Aleuts assigned Kagamale, the island in question, as the last resting-place of a great chief, known as Karkhayahouchak. Last year the captain was in the neighborhood of Kagamale, in quest of sea-otter and other furs and he bore up for the island, with the intention of testing the truth of the tradition he had heard. He had more difficulty in entering the cave than in finding it, his schooner having to beat on and off shore for three days. Finally, he succeeded in effecting a landing, and clambering up the rocks he found himself in the presence of the dead chief, his family and relatives.
“The cave smelt strongly of hot sulphurous vapors. With great care the mummies were removed, and all the little trinkets and ornaments scattered around were also taken away.
“In all there are eleven packages of bodies. Only two or three have as yet been opened. The body of the chief is enclosed in a large basket like structure, about four feet in height. Outside the wrappings are finely-wrought sea-grass matting, exquisitely close in texture, and skins. At the bottom is a broad hoop or basket of thinly-cut wood, and adjoining the center portions are pieces of body armor composed of reeds bound together. The body is covered with the fine skin of the sea-otter, always a mark of distinction in the interments of the Aleuts, and round the whole package are stretched the meshes of a fish-net, made of the sinews of the sea lion also those of a bird- net. There are evidently some bulky articles enclosed with the chief’s body, and the whole package differs very much from the others, which more resemble, in their brown-grass matting, consignments of crude sugar from the Sandwich Islands than the remains of human beings. The bodies of a pappoose and of a very little child, which probably died at birth or soon after it, have sea-otter skins around them. One of the feet of the latter projects, with a toe-nail visible. The remaining mummies are of adults.
“One of the packages has been opened, and it reveals a man’s body in tolerable preservation, but with a large portion of the face decomposed. This and the other bodies were doubled up at death by severing some of the muscles at the hip and knee joints and bending the limbs downward horizontally upon the trunk. Perhaps the most peculiar package, next to that of the chief, is one which encloses in a single matting, with sea-lion skins, the bodies of a man and woman. The collection also embraces a couple of skulls, male and female, which have still the hair attached to the scalp. The hair has changed its color to a brownish red. The relics obtained with the bodies include a few wooden vessels scooped out smoothly a piece of dark, greenish, flat stone, harder than the emerald, which the Indians use to tan skins a scalp-lock of jet-black hair a small rude figure, which may have been a very ugly doll or an idol two or three tiny carvings in ivory of the sea-lion, very neatly executed, a comb, a necklet made of birds’ claws inserted into one another, and several specimens of little bags, and a cap plaited out of sea-grass and almost water-tight.”
With the foregoing examples as illustration, the matter of embalmment may be for the present dismissed, with the advice to observers that particular care should be taken, in case mummies are discovered, to ascertain whether the bodies have been submitted to a regular preservative process, or owe their protection to ingredients in the soil of their graves or to desiccation in arid districts.

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Introduction to the Study of Mortuary Customs Among the North American Indians

Pedro Mountains Mummy, Carbon County, Wyoming

In October 1932, while digging for gold in the San Pedro mountains, Carbon County, Wyoming, two prospectors, Cecil Mayne and Frank Carr, blasted their way through some thick rock that a large vein of gold continued into. When the dust settled, they saw they had opened up a small room, approximately 4 ft tall, 4 ft wide, and about 15 ft deep. This is where they claimed that they first saw the mummy of a tiny person.

This first mummy was examined using X-rays which determined that it was the body of an anencephalic infant “whose cranial deformity gave it the appearance of a miniature adult.” A second mummy examined by University of Wyoming anthropologist George Gill and the Denver Children’s Hospital in the 1990s was also shown to be an anencephalic infant. DNA testing showed it to be Native American and radiocarbon dating dated it to about 1700.

The Pedro Mountain Mummy (also called the Dwarf Mummy of Wyoming) is a small (approximately 40 centimeters or 14 inches) mummified corpse, that was found in 1932 by two prospectors named Cecil Main and Frank Carr in a cave in the Pedro Mountains in Wyoming.

The mummy was put on public display at Jones’ Drug in Meeteetse, Wyoming, before being sold to Ivan Goodman, a Casper, Wyoming, businessman, in the mid-1940s. Thinking it would be a good way to attract business and publicity, Goodman displayed the mummy at his used car lot for several years. The mummy was also displayed publicly at the Rialto Cigar Shop in downtown Casper for a time during the late 1940s.

In 1950, Goodman had the mummy examined by Dr. Harry Shapiro, an anthropologist from the American Museum of Natural History. X-rays showed that it was indeed human but this is where anthropologists and other scientific experts part company. The anthropologists were unanimous in agreement that the mummy was an infant but another group of radiologists and doctors believed the remains were of a 16-65 year old male.

Goodman died in 1950 and the mummy was passed on to Leonard Wadler, a New York businessman, a July 7, 1979, article in the Casper Star-Tribune states. The mummy has not been seen in public since Wadler, who died in the 1980s, took possession of it.

The mummy’s whereabouts are currently unknown. After the mummy vanished, its X-rays were examined by George Gill, an anthropology professor at the University of Wyoming in the 1970s. Gill concluded the mummy was the remains of an anencephalic infant, according to a February 3, 2003, Casper Star-Tribune story.

Although the exact nature of the mummy may never be determined, some speculate it to be the remains of a Nimerigar, a race of Little People spoken of in the legends of the Shoshone Indians. Others have claimed it was an extraterrestrial. The head was covered in a dark, gelatinous substance, leading some to accuse Main and Carr of perpetrating a hoax using an infant from a medical collection, since some of the mummy appeared to have been preserved in liquid. This mystery will remain until the mummy surfaces and faces a battery of modern day tests … if ever. Source:

Bruce H. Porter
Eleven mummies, found by Lebolo were eventually sent to the United States, four of which were purchased by the church in Kirtland in 1835. The history of the mummies was published in a church publication in December of 1835. It reads:
The public mind has been excited of late, by reports which have been circulated concerning certain Egyptian mummies and ancient records which were purchased by certain gentlemen of Kirtland, last July… The records were obtained from one of the catacombs in Egypt, near the place where one stood the renowned city of Thebes, by the celebrated French Traveler, Antonio Lebolo in the year 1831. He procured license from Mehemet Ali, then Viceroy of Egypt, under the protection of Chevalier Drovetti, the French Consul, in the year 1828 employed 433 men four months and two days (if I understood correctly, Egyptian or Turkish soldiers), at from four to six cents per diem, each man entered the catacomb June 7, 1831, and obtained eleven mummies in the same catacomb: about one hundred embalmed after the first order, and deposited and placed in niches, and two or three hundred after the second and third order, and laid upon the floor or bottom of the grand cavity, the two last orders of embalmed- were so decayed that they could not be removed, and only eleven of the first, found in the niches. On the way from Alexandria to Paris, he put in at Trieste, and after ten days illness, expired. This was in the year 1832. Previous to his decease, he made a will of the whole to Mr. Michael H. Chandler, then in Philadelphia, Pa. his nephew whom he supposed to have been in Ireland. Accordingly the whole were sent to Dublin, addressed according, and Mr. Chandler’s friends ordered them sent to New York, where they were received at the custom house, in the winter or spring of 1833. In April of the same year, Mr. Chandler paid the duties upon his Mummies, and took possession of the same. Up to this time they had not been taken out of the coffins nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins he discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, were something rolled up with the same kind of linen, saturated with the same bitumen, which, when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, previously mentioned. I may add that two or three other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations,

epitaphs, etc. were found with others of the Mummies. 1
concerning the discovery, we must rely on sources that are not even second hand. According to the Chandler/Cowdery account, it states that the records and mummies came from the area of Thebes and were discovered by Antonio Lebolo. There is no question that this is possible, since Lebolo worked almost
exclusively in the vicinity of Thebes. He also carried out

excavations on his own as is seen with the Soter find and probable others.2
As to the date, there is a problem. I am unaware of any

record of Lebolo being in Egypt after December of 1821.3 This does not mean in any way that he could not have been or would not have been in Egypt any number of times after 1821.
Dawson, in his Who Was Who, states that Lebolo died in
Trieste in 1823. The second edition leaves the death date open in light of Cowdery’s account above.4 However, this is not

1 Messenger and Advocate, 2:3 (December, 1835) 232-33. This was recorded by Oliver Cowdery, who interviewed Michael H. Chandler within six months of the purchase.

2 It would be naive to assume that Lebolo did no digging on his own, or did no more than the Soter excavation, when considering Lebolo sold his own collections to the Vatican and to Burghart for the Imperial Museum of Vienna.

3 Balboni, Gl’Italiani nella Civilta Egiziana, 307, 308. Balboni, in his book has a copy of a letter written by Lebolo to Segate, dated November 25, 1821, Lebolo being in Egypt at that time. Lebolo’s marriage record is dated June 12, 1824 at Venice. The record states, “…born in Castellamonte …presently domiciled in Alexandria Egypt” (H. Donl Peterson, “Mummies and Manuscripts,” 1980).

4 Dawson and Uphill, Who Was Who, 166. Speaking of the mummies Uphill states that “Further ones appear to have been received in America…which if correct shows that Lebolo cannot have died in 1823 as previously thought.”

possible since the church register in Castellamonte records Lebolo’s death there on February 19, 1830. Was Chandler mistaken on the death date? Was he misinformed? Was it Lebolo at all that discovered the tomb? The date for the discovery by Lebolo himself is wrong of this, there is no doubt. Even if the discovery took place on “June 7, 1831” as stated by Chandler/Cowdery, the time allowed to accomplish all that the report indicated would be questionable. 6 Although we can only make assumptions about the difference in dating, other details that Chandler gave about the mummies incline us to question his veracity.
“He procured license from Hememet Ali.” This would have had to have been done in order to “personally” excavate in Egypt at that time. If Lebolo was acting as an independent, he would need a license from Ali. However, if he were operating as an agent of Drovetti, “with permission to ascertain a personal collection,𔄩

A copy of Lebolo’s death entry is in the position of H. Donl Peterson. It reads: � Lebolo Antonio the wife of whom is Anna Dufour, African woman, son of Pietro and Marianna Meuta, aged of fifty years, provided with sacraments, died on the nineteenth day of February and the next day buried.
6 If the discovery took place in June of 1831, the mummies would then have to be removed and transported from Qurna to Cairo, and from there to Alexandra. Once there, they would have to be packed and crated for the voyage to Trieste where they would need to be unloaded and moved to where Lebolo was to die. Once the will was probated (and the freight paid), the mummies were then to proceed to Ireland. After the search for Michael Chandler failed, his “friends” sent them to New York. From the date of entering the tomb to the time Chandler received the mummies was about twenty-two months. It is possible, but not probable.

Marro’s summary of Lebolo. See note 8

he would need no license, but would then be “under the protection of” Drovetti. 8
The license was procured by Lebolo, according to
Chandler/Cowdery, in 1828. This very well could have been if Lebolo had returned to do excavations on his own.
The report then speaks of Lebolo employing 433 men, four months and two days (such exact numbers!). This is not hard to believe in light of Vidua’s comment that Lebolo would sometimes have up to “three hundred men at his command.119 According to this account, after entering the tomb, they obtained eleven mummies probably those had coffins and could be removed intact. It would be surprising if there were not more than eleven coffins in the tomb, and as habit dictated in the past, the better ones were opening looking for valuable artif acts.1 0
“One hundred mummies after the first order, and ‘one to two hundred after the second and third order’ were contained in the tomb.” Of the two to three hundred mummies in the tomb, most were in such a state of decay that only eleven could be removed. As Henniker stated, there were more than fourteen mummies in the Soter tomb and all but those fourteen were too decayed to be removed. 11 1 1
Belzoni speaks of such a tomb as described by

8 Vidua, in letter No. 34, writes that even the “Turkish commander respects him (Lebolo) for fear of Mr. Drovetti.”
1 0 Hennik er, Notes, 137. See notes 30 and 31 above.
1 1 Ib id.

After the exertion of entering into such a place, through a passage of fifty, a hundred, three hundred, or perhaps six hundred yards, nearly overcome, I sought a resting-place, found one, and contrived to sit but when my weight bore on the body of an Egyptian, it crushed like a bandbox. I naturally had recourse to my hands to sustain my weight, but they found no better support so that I sank altogether among the broken mummies, with a crash of bones, rags, and wooden cases, which raised such a dust as kept me motionless for a quarter of an hour, waiting till it subsided again. I could not remove from the place, however, without increasing it, and every step I took I crushed a mummy in some part or another. Once I was conducted from such a place to another resembling it through a passage of about twenty feet in length, no wider than body could be forced through. It was choked with mummies, and I could not pass without putting my fact in contact with that of some decayed Egyptian but as the passage inclined downwards, my own weight helped me on however, I could not avoid being covered with bones, legs, arms, and heads rolling from above. Thus, I proceeded from one cave to another all full of mummies piled up in various ways some standing, some lying, and some on their heads. The purpose of my researches was to rob the Egyptians of their papyri of which I found a few hidden in their breasts, under their arms, in the space above the knees, on the leg, and covered by numerous folds of cloth that envelop the mummy. 1 2

It is possible that this large number of mummies could have been in the tomb with the eleven that Chandler received. However, there is one problem. There are not that many known tombs in Qurna that could accommodate two or three hundred living, much less mummified, people. Could the eleven mummies that Chandler received have come from more than one tomb? Could they derive from Lebolo’s last collection, sold after his death?
Lebolo did not make a will leaving the eleven mummies to Michael H. Chandler. The will of Antonio Lebolo was found in the fall of 1984 and contained no mention of a Michael H. Chandler,
1 2 Mayes, The Great Belzoni, 160.

or the eleven mummies. The will itself was over two hundred pages, most of which listed Lebolo’s belongings. From his will, Lebolo obviously passed away a wealthy and influential man in his community.1 3
Where then did the eleven mummies that Michael Chandler acquired from? At the time the will was found, and in the same archives, the heirs of Antonio Lebolo were filing suit against one Alban Oblasser, dated July 30, 1831. This suit charged Oblasser, who then resided in Trieste, of the sale of “eleven mummies” that he had been given by Lebolo to sell on consignment. The sale of these mummies by Oblasser left monies owing the estate of the Lebolo he irs. 1 4 Could these “eleven mummies” be the same “eleven mummies” that Chandler received?
Another account of Chandler receiving the mummies is giving
in 1842 by P. P. Pratt.

A gentleman, travelling in Egypt, made a selection of several mummies, of the best kind of embalming, and of course, in the best state of preservation on his way to England he died, bequeathing them to a gentleman of the name of Chandler. They arrived in the Thames, but it was found the gentleman was in America, they were then forwarded to New York and advertised, when Mr. Chandler came forward and claimed them. One of the mummies, on being unrolled, had underneath the cloths in which it was wrapped, lying upon the breast, a roll of papyrus, in an excellent state of preservation, written in Egyptian character, and illustrated in the manner of our ingraving, which is a copy from a portion of it. The mummies, together with the record, have been exhibited, generally, throughout the States,

1 3 The will is housed in the state archives in Torino. Mr. Comollo, H. Donl Peterson and myself were in Torino for the purpose of locating the will when it was found. Copies of the will are in the possession of Professor Peterson and myself.

1 4 A copy of this suit is in the possession of H. Donl Peterson as well as myself.

previous to their falling into our hands. 1 3
In light of the “Oblasser suit,” this account seems even more plausible than the Chandler/Cowdery “will” story.
However Chandler came by the mummies, in “April of 1833” he paid the duty and took possession of them. From New York “he took his collection to Philadelphia, where he exhibited them for a compensation.” Cowdery continues, “from Philadelphia he visited Harrisburgh, and other places east of the mountains.” Newspaper accounts and advertisements verify that Chandler did

exhibit his collection. following:

A Philadelphia newspaper contained the


The largest collection of EGYPTIAN MUMMIES ever exhibited in this city, is now to be seen at the Masonic Hall, in Chestnut Street above Seventh.
They were found in the vicinity of Thebes, by the celebrated traveler Antonio Lebolo and Chevalier Drovetti, General Consul of France in Egypt.
Some writings on Papirus [sic] found with the mummies, can also be seen, and will afford, no doubt, much satisfaction to Amateurs of Antiquites.
Admittance 25 cents, children half price. Open from 9 A.M. till 2 P.M., and from 3 P.M. to 6.
Ap 3 – d3W
This article began on April 3rd and ran for three weeks.1e The Hartford Republican ran this note while the mummies were
on exhibition in Philadelphia: “Nine mummies, recently found in the vicinity of Thebes, are now exhibiting at the Masonic Hall,

1 The Latter-Day Millennial star, 3:3 (July, 1842), 46.

1 eu, s. Gazette, published by Joseph Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 3, 1833, p. 3.

Phil adelphia.𔄣 7
By this time two mummies were already missing from the collection of eleven. In Pratt’s account above, Chandler opened one coffin and unrolled one mummy at the customs house. Cowdery, in speaking of this incident, says: “When Dr. Chandler discovered that there was something with the Mummies, he supposed, or hoped it might be some diamonds or other valuable metal, and was no little chagrined when he saw his d is appointment.” 1 9 As noted above, one mummy may have been destroyed at the customs house while Chandler searched it for the gold of the Pharaohs.
Two mummies appear to have been bought by Samuel George Morton in Philadelphia. He lists in his Catalogue of Skulls under item numbers 48, 60, 󈬠. Embalmed head of an Egyptian girl, eight years of age, from the Theban catacombs. Egyptian form, with a single lock of long fine hair. Dissected by me before the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, December 10, 1833.” There is little question that this mummy came from the Chandler mummies. Entry number 60 leaves no doubt: “Embalmed head of an Egyptian lady about 16 years of age, brought from the catacombs of Al Gourna, near Thebes, by the late Antonio Lebolo, of whose heirs I purchased it, together with the entire body the latter dissected before the Academy of Natural Sciences, on the 10th and 17th of December, 1833, in the presence

1 7 The Hartford Republican, Belle Air, Hartford County, Maryland, 3:41 (Thursday, May 23, 1833):1.
1 8 Messenger and Advocate, p. 234.

of eight members and others. Egyptian form, with long fine hair.” 1 9
By the time Chandler reached Baltimore, the number of mummies had dwindled to six. We read: “P.S. The citizens are respectfully informed that the Manager has received from the vicinity of Thebes that celebrated city of Ancient Egypt, Six strangers illustrious from their antiquity, count probably an existence at least 1,000 years anterior to the advent of our blessed Savior…𔄤 0
On September 9, 1833, we see in the Harrisburg Chronicle: “SIX EGYPTIAN MUMMIES now exhibiting in the Masonic Hall, Harrisburg.” By the time Chandler reached Cleveland in 1835, he was tired of “life on the road.” Following the typical advertisement of the mummies we read: “The collection is offered for sale by the Proprie tor.𔄤 1
About three months later, they were bought by the church in
Kirtland, Ohio. In the journal of Joseph Smith, it reads for the date of July 3, 1835: “On the 3rd of July, Michael H. Chandler came to Kirtland to exhibit some Egyptian mummies. There were four human figures, together with some two or more rolls of

1 9 Samuel George Morton, Catalogue of Skulls, (Philadelphia: Merrihew and Thompson, 1849), 38, 39. Both of these mummies were from Thebes and were dissected the same day by Morton.

2 0 Ameri can and Commercial Daily Advertiser, Baltimore, July 22, 1833. This article was under the section for the Baltimore Museum and ran through August 9, 1833.

2 1 Cleveland Advertiser, Cleveland, Ohio, Thursday, March 26, 1835.

papyrus covered with hieroglyphic figures and devices.”
on the 6th of July “some of the saints at Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus.𔄤 3 Joseph Smith then kept the mummies and papyrus in his possession until his death in 1844. They then passed to his mother who kept them until her death in 1855. Eventually it appears that they were acquired by the Woods Museum in Chicago. After the great Chicago fire of 1871, it was believed that the mummies and papyrus had been destroyed. In 1966, some fragments of the Joseph Smith Papyri were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hinting that perhaps at least some of this Lebolo collection may still be found. The church obtained ownership of the eleven fragments of papyri in November of 1967. They are now housed in the Church Archives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2 2 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret, 1973), 2:235.
2 3 Ib id., p. 236.

X-rays power discoveries at Chicago's Field Museum

IMAGE: This cross-table X-ray image of the head of an ancient Egyptian mummy was taken recently with new digital medical imaging technology. It is exceptionally clear and reveals a previously unknown. view more

Credit: Photo courtesy of The Field Museum

CHICAGO, IL, and ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 7 -- Digital medical imaging and information technology from Carestream Health, Inc., is playing a key role in helping The Field Museum of Chicago discover and analyze secrets hidden within its world-class collections.

Carestream Health has donated a computed radiography (CR) system that enables The Field Museum--for the first time--to capture, archive and share digital x-ray images from more than one million priceless specimens and artifacts in its Anthropology collection. The Field Museum is also using a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) from Carestream Health for the management, viewing and storage of the growing collection of digital images managed by the museum's staff.

"The availability of this advanced x-ray system will have tremendous benefits not only for research, but also for management of our collections," said Robert D. Martin, the A. Watson Armour III Curator of Biological Anthropology at The Field Museum. "Non-invasive visualization of specimens and artifacts can yield valuable new scientific information, and it can also provide crucial indications for proper conservation of specimens in our care."

Images of an ancient Egyptian mummy demonstrate how digital images are superior to film images. Recently captured digital images have revealed a previously unknown erosion of the parietal lobes in the mummy's skull. This could indicate the presence of parasites, anemia or malnourishment shortly before death. Similarly, curators will be looking for signs of spinal cord deterioration in other specimens, which could be a sign of tuberculosis.

"The nice part about this new digital equipment is that it is very fast and the images are so sharp," said J.P. Brown, Conservator, Anthropology, The Field Museum. "This system allows us to do in a day what it used to take a week to accomplish."

The CR system has already led to new discoveries, Brown added. A digital image of the pelvis of the same Egyptian mummy revealed that the person was most likely a woman between 30 and 40 years old. Additionally, an image of a Peruvian "false head" (falsa cabeza) revealed the surprising presence of shells inside the artifact. Anthropology Collections Manager Chris Philip identified shells inside the stuffing of the mask. The clarity of the image allowed Invertebrates Collections Manager Jochen Gerber to specify two complete shells as Mesodesma donacium, an edible marine clam inhabiting the waters off the west coast of South America. This may help to answer the tantalizing question of why this "false head" was packed with shells. The shells appear to be a deliberate addition to the filling of the mask, possibly a food offering, but their meaning is unclear since no other specimens with added shells are known.

In another example, an image of the head of a statue of a king from a Sassanian palace in Iraq revealed metal pieces that had been added to the statue as part of a restoration that was probably performed in the late 1940s. Prior to capturing this image, Field Museum conservators had planned to treat the statue with water to soak out salts that had accumulated in it over the years while it was buried in the ground. If they had done so, the metal pieces would have rusted and the pressure from the rust would have caused the piece to break apart. Now--armed with new information--the conservators are developing a method to stabilize the artifact that does not involve immersing it in water.

For several decades, The Field Museum used x-ray film to capture images of its unique collections. "With the CR system, the museum's staff is realizing the many benefits of digital imaging technology in its day-to-day operations," said Laryssa Johnson, Marketing Director, Digital Capture Solutions, Carestream Health. "For example, this system--typically used by healthcare facilities worldwide to capture patient x-ray images--is now producing high-quality digital images of the museum's priceless artifacts for use in ongoing research projects."

Carestream Health's CR system is ideal for use with organic objects such as mummies, leather goods and baskets, and can generate excellent images of denser museum pieces such as ceramics, stucco and beads. The company's digital workstation--also on site--allows the museum to have one centralized image review platform with a powerful database that provides quick and easy access to studies and images.

"As one of the world's leading educational institutions, The Field Museum's collection-based research and exhibits help create greater public understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live," said Diana Nole, President, Digital Capture Solutions, Carestream Health. "Our digital technology is helping the museum's talented staff further unlock the many mysteries contained within its priceless collections."

Carestream Health has a special business unit--its Non-Destructive Testing Solutions group--that develops and delivers non-destructive testing systems for a wide variety of industries and businesses around the world. The company has dedicated resources available to the museum/art world for implementing innovative digital systems for capturing images of architectural objects, mummies, dinosaurs, sculptures, paintings, historical artifacts and much more.

1. Mummy being x-rayed
Digital medical imaging and information technology from Carestream Health is being used to x-ray priceless Field Museum artifacts, including this ancient Egyptian mummy. Photo by Karen Bean courtesy of The Field Museum

2. Mummy image (head 1)
This cross-table x-ray image of the head of an ancient Egyptian mummy was taken recently with new digital medical imaging technology. It is exceptionally clear and reveals a previously unknown erosion of the parietal lobes in the mummy's skull. This could indicate the presence of parasites, anemia, or malnourishment shortly before death. Note the material under the mummy's chin, likely a fat-filled linen wadding used in mummies to give the neck a natural shape. Photo courtesy of The Field Museum

3. Mummy image (head 2)
This oblique view of the mummy's head confirms that the wadding under the mummy's chin follows the line of the neck. The dried remains of the eyes, which were not removed for mummification, can be also seen. Photo courtesy of The Field Museum

4. Mummy image (pelvis)
This x-ray image of the pelvis of an ancient Egyptian mummy was taken recently with the new CR system. It is revealed that the person was most likely a woman between 30 and 40 years old. The shape of the sciatic notch (wide and relatively shallow) indicates that the sex is female. This is supported by the relatively low height of the pubic symphysis and the wide subpubic angle. The relatively attenuating areas in the abdominal cavity are probably bags filled with sand and/or salt, used as padding. It is possible, though, that these are packages containing mummified organs returned to the body rather than being stored separately in canopic jars, as was often done. Photo courtesy of The Field Museum

5. Mummy image (leg)
This image of the right femur of an ancient Egyptian mummy reveals the absence of new bone growth near the fracture, indicating that the leg was broken after the person died and the body mummified. Photo courtesy of The Field Museum

6. Peruvian mask
This mask or "false head", made from fiber-stuffed fabric with wood and paint decoration, would originally have been attached to a South American mummy from Pachamac, a coastal site about 15 miles southeast of Lima, Peru. Photo by John Weinstein, courtesy of The Field Museum

7. Mask image
This image of an ancient Peruvian mask or "false head" shows the surprising presence of shells inside the stuffing of the mask. This information may help to answer the tantalizing question of why this "false head" was packed with shells. The shells appear to be a deliberate addition to the filling of the mask, possibly a food offering, but their meaning is unclear since no other specimens with added shells are known. Photo courtesy of The Field Museum

About The Field Museum
Founded in 1893 and in its current building since 1921, The Field Museum is one of the world's premier natural history museums, housing more than 24 million artifacts and specimens. It is also a major scientific research center, with a presence in scores of countries and with more than 70 scientists working at the museum and around the world in anthropology, botany, conservation, cultural understanding, geology and zoology.

The Field Museum is located at 1400 South Lake Shore Drive and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Christmas Day and New Years Day. For general information and special events please call 312-922-9410 or visit the museum's interactive web site at For travel information, please call the Illinois Department of Transportation, 312-368-4636, or the RTA Travel Center Hotline, 312-836-7000.

About Carestream Health, Inc.

Carestream Health, Inc., is a leading provider of dental and medical imaging systems and healthcare IT solutions molecular imaging systems for the life science research and drug discovery/development market segments. The company's Non-Destructive Testing Solutions group provides high-quality KODAK INDUSTREX products and services to industrial markets around the world. Carestream Health was formed in 2007 when Onex Corporation (TSX: OCX.TO) purchased Eastman Kodak Company's Health Group. For more information please visit

Carestream Health, an independent company, has licensed the Kodak brand for use with its own brands across its portfolio of products. CARESTREAM is a trademark of Carestream Health, Inc.

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I am grateful to Nichola Court, then archivist at the Royal Society, for her assistance and advice when I first consulted the Henry Perry drawings, and to Karine Sarant-Hawkins at the library of the Royal Academy of Arts for helping me locate further information about Perry. Feedback from the editor of Notes and Records and two anonymous reviewers has been an enormous benefit to this article, initial research for which was undertaken during a period of sabbatical leave supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


To all our colleagues from the Institute for Evolutionary Medicine for support and advice: Roger Seiler, Lena Maria Öhrström, Michael Campana, Sabrina Meyer, Kaspar Staub. To Wolfgang Wettengel for useful remarks and addenda. The authors declare no relevant financial interest.

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