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Secrets of Ancient Egyptian mummification materials revealed



A new study, published in the journal Nature, has revealed the types of materials used in Ancient Egyptian mummification.

Back in 2016, archaeologists discovered an embalming workshop at the Saqqara Necropolis, located in the Giza Governorate, Egypt.

Saqqara contains ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty, numerous pyramids, including the Pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb, and a number of mastaba tombs.

The workshop, which dates from 664 to 525 BC during the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, contained 2,500-year-old labelled pots, used for storing plant and animal extracts that were used in the mummification process.

A chemical analysis by researchers from the University of Tübingen, working in collaboration with the National Research Centre laboratory in Giza, has identified botanical resins within the pots, some of which originate from as far away as Southeast Asia.

They used gas chromatography–mass spectrometry which has revealed the pot extracts, including juniper bushes, cypress trees, cedar trees, all of which grows in the eastern Mediterranean region. The study also found extracts of bitumen from the Dead Sea, and animal fats and beeswax which was likely sourced locally.

Interestingly, the team found traces of a resin called elemi which is sourced from Canarium trees that grow in rainforests in Asia and Africa, and dammar from the Shorea trees found in southern India, Sri Lanka and southeast Asia.

Carl Heron, an archaeological scientist at the British Museum told Nature: “Egypt was resource poor in terms of many resinous substances, so many were procured or traded from distant lands.”

The process in which these materials were applied is yet to be determined, and the study has led to new questions about the ancient trade routes that connected Ancient Egypt to the locations where the resins where sourced.

Ancient Egyptian embalmers had a sophisticated understanding of the raw materials’ properties, the authors say. Pots contained complex mixtures of ingredients that, in some cases, had been carefully heated or distilled. Many of the resins had antimicrobial properties — one bowl containing elemi and animal fat was inscribed “to make his odour pleasant” — or characteristics that promoted preservation.


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This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Early medieval carved stone of a warrior figure found in Glasgow




Archaeologists excavating the grounds of Govan Old Church in Glasgow, England, have discovered an early medieval carved stone figure dubbed the “Govan Warrior”.

Govan Old Church is the home of the Govan Stone Museum, a collection of early medieval and Viking-Age sculptures found in the grounds, including 30 sculptures from a lost kingdom of Old Welsh-speaking Britons known as the Ystrad Clud who dominated the Clyde valley from the 5th to 11th centuries AD.

Excavations have been conducted by the University of Glasgow and Clyde Archaeology, in which a carved stone of a warrior was uncovered during a community fun day organised as part of the Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival.

The carved stone depicts a man standing side on and carrying a round shield and a shaft. According to the researchers, the discovery dates from around 1,000-years-ago and is unlike any of the other carved stones found at Govan Old.

According to a press statement by the University of Glasgow: “The Govan Warrior is unique within the existing collection due to its stylistic characteristics, which has drawn parallels with Pictish art and carvings from the Isle of Man. Unlike the other stones in the Govan collection, whose chunky style of carving is so distinctive that it has been described as a school of carving in its own right (the ‘Govan School’), the Govan Warrior is lightly incised, which may bring parallels with famous Pictish stones like the Rhynie Man from Aberdeenshire.”

Professor Stephen Driscoll said: “It’s a style that makes us think both about the Pictish world and also about the Isle of Man and it’s interesting that we are halfway between these two places. Govan is the ideal place for these two artistic traditions or styles to come together.”

University of Glasgow

Header Image Credit : Govan Heritage Trust

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Iron Age port discovered on Baltic Sea island of Gotska Sandön




An excavation project, in collaboration with archaeologists from Södertörn University, Uppsala University’s Campus Gotland, Gotland Museum, and the Swedish National Heritage Board, has led to the discovery of an Iron Age port on Gotska Sandön.

Gotska Sandön is an island and national park in Sweden’s Gotland County, situated 24 miles north of Faro in the Baltic Sea.

Earlier in 2023, archaeologists found two 2,000-year-old Roman coins on one of the island’s beaches. Both coins are made of silver, with one coin dating from AD 98-117 during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and the other coin dating from AD 138-161 during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius

In the latest excavations, archaeologists have now discovered evidence of twenty hearths on the same beach as the Roman coins discovery.

According to Johan Rönnby, a professor of marine archaeology at Södertörn University, the site is an Iron Age port, not in the sense of quays we imply in the modern era, but instead a place where Iron Age people regularly landed their boats and formed an encampment.

Although the purpose of the encampment is speculated, the researchers suggest that it may have been linked to an emerging seal hunting industry.

“Seal hunters may have come from the island of Gotland and landed on Sandön to boil seal blubber. This could have been what the hearths were used for, but we don’t yet know – there may be other reasons why the site looks like it does, such as it being a trading post,” said Rönnby.

Excavations and carbon-14 dating of one of the hearths has indicated that they also date from 2,000-years-ago, suggesting a possible link between the encampment and the Roman coins.


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