Published on 26 Apr 2014 | over 2 years ago
This mummy, of an adult male, has been on display at the British Museum since 1901. It is the earliest mummified body ever seen by the public.
It is part of a group of six naturally mummified bodies, known as Gebelein predynastic mummies, which have been carbon dated to approximately 3400 BC, which is about five and a half thousand years ago from now, belonging to the Late Predynastic period of Egypt, and were the first complete pre-dynastic bodies to be discovered.
In 1896, the mummies were found by a resident of Gebelein, Egypt with the help of Wallis Budge, the British Museum Keeper for Egyptology. They were excavated from a place called Baḥr Bila Mâ (Water-less Sea) located at the eastern slopes of the northern hills at Gebelein.
In the predynastic period bodies were usually buried naked bringing it in direct contact with the warm sand, Desert sand and sun caused most of the water in the body to be quickly evaporated or drained away, meaning that the corpse is naturally dried and preserved.
This body, known as the Gebelein Man, was in his late teen or early twenties and was about 5 feet 4 inches tall. He had, probably, been murdered.
A CAT scan of the mummified body taken at the Cromwell Hospital in London in 2012 showed that Gebelein Man had been aged about 18 to 20 at the time of his death and had been well built. Under his left shoulder blade the scan revealed a puncture to the body; the murder weapon had been used with such force that it had slightly damaged the shoulder blade but had shattered the rib beneath it and penetrated the lungs. It is believed that the injury had been caused by a copper blade or flint knife at least 12 cm long and 2 cm wide. Experts believe that Gebelein Man had been taken by surprise by the attack as there were no defense wounds.