ANCIENT Egyptians may have been carrying out sophisticated mummifications 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to findings.
An investigation into a mummy that was found in 2019 has suggested it is the oldest ever to be discovered, and shows that previous understandings of mummification may have been out of kilter by over a millennium.
The body of “Khuwy” – who was believed to be a nobleman from the Fifth Dynasty and discovered in a tomb in the necropolis at Saqqara, south of Cairo – showed techniques that used high quality resin and extremely fine linen dressing that was not previously believed to have been used in the Old Kingdom period.
“It’s extraordinary. The only time I’ve seen so much of this kind of good quality linen has been in the 21st dynasty,” said Prof Salima Ikram, head of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and a leading expert on the history of mummification.
Several of the paintings within Khuwy’s tomb are still brightly painted despite the passing of 4,000 years.
The tomb, which was covered in hieroglyphs, also has a tunnel entrance that has previously only been found in the Pyramids of Giza.
The findings in 2019 prompted questions over Khuwy’s relationship to Pharaoh Djedkare Isesi, the ruler of ancient Egypt during the Fifth Dynasty.
The colours in the paintings of the tomb are considered by Egyptologists to be “royal colours”.
The findings will be unveiled in full in the series Lost Treasures of Egypt, on the National Geographic channel next month.
The eight-part series will also feature the burial chamber of the largest pyramid of any queen of Egypt, seen for the first time since it was built more than 4,000 years ago.
The documentary series will follow archaeologists during the country’s excavation season.
The investigation into Khuwy’s mummification process, if confirmed to be from the Fifth Dynasty, could rewrite the history of ancient Egyptian mummification, according to experts.
The 21st dynasty reigned more than 1,000 years after the period in which Khuwy is believed to have lived.