Four-year-old ancient Egyptian mummy had a dressed, pus-filled wound

Meet the child mummy with a dressed WOUND: Scientists uncover the remains of a four-year-old girl buried in Egypt 2,000 years ago with a bandage covering a pus-filled cut on her leg

  • Experts believe infections were likely a common aspect of life in ancient Egypt
  • Ten spyte van hierdie, egter, we have little physical evidence for infection in mummies
  • Researchers led from the BG Unfallklinik Murnau CT scanned 21 child mummies
  • They found evidence of pus-bearing infections in three of the specimens studied
  • The girl represents the first example of an original ancient Egyptian dressing
  • Scans of an ancient Egyptian child mummy interred in a tomb 2,000 years ago have revealed that the 2.5–4-year-old was buried with a bandaged, pus-filled, leg wound.

    The child has the first-known example of an original ancient Egyptian dressing, and was found in the ‘Tomb of Alineat Hawara, Egipte, in 1892.

    Thought to date back to around 24 AD, this grave is notable in that three of its eight mummified occupants had been decorated with a portrait of the individual.

    The nameless girl, depicted wearing simple jewellery and ringlets in her hair, is thought to have been the middle of the three daughters of Aline.

    This middle-or-upper-class woman after whom the tomb was named, was identified thanks to an inscription which also noted she died aged 35.

    Haar dogter, saam met 20 other mummies, were X-ray imaged by experts led from the BG Unfallklinik Murnau as part of a search for examples of ancient infections.

    Die bevindinge, hulle het gesê, offer a glimpse at ancient Egyptian maladies and treatments.

    Scans of an ancient Egyptian child mummy interred in a tomb 2,000 years ago have revealed that the 2.5–4-year-old was buried with a bandaged, pus-filled , leg wound. Op die foto: an X-ray slice running longitudinally through the girl's foot and lower left leg. The bandage, underneath the mummy's textile wrappings, can be see highlighted with a solid arrow, while hyper-dense masses that are consistent with dried pus deposits are highlighted with dashed arrows

    Scans of an ancient Egyptian child mummy interred in a tomb 2,000 years ago have revealed that the 2.5–4-year-old was buried with a bandaged, pus-filled , leg wound. Op die foto: an X-ray slice running longitudinally through the girl’s foot and lower left leg. The bandage, underneath the mummy’s textile wrappings, can be see highlighted with a solid arrow, while hyper-dense masses that are consistent with dried pus deposits are highlighted with dashed arrows

    The preserved individual has the first-known example of an original ancient Egyptian dressing, and was found in the 'Tomb of Aline' at Hawara in 1892. Thought to date back to 24 AD, this grave is notable in that three of its eight mummified occupants had been decorated with a portrait of said individual. Op die foto: the mummified girl, thought to be a daughter of Aline, whose portrait was painted on linen covering her face

    The preserved individual has the first-known example of an original ancient Egyptian dressing, and was found in the ‘Tomb of Alineat Hawara in 1892. Thought to date back to 24 AD, this grave is notable in that three of its eight mummified occupants had been decorated with a portrait of said individual. Op die foto: the mummified girl, thought to be a daughter of Aline, whose portrait was painted on linen covering her face

    The nameless girl (op die foto), depicted wearing simple jewellery and ringlets in her hair, is thought to have been the middle of the three daughters of Aline (reg)

    Aline (op die foto) — the middle-or-upper-class woman after whom the tomb was named — was identified thanks to an inscription which also noted she died aged 35.

    The nameless girl (links), depicted wearing simple jewellery and ringlets in her hair, is thought to have been the middle of the three daughters of Aline (reg)

    THE TOMB OF ALINE

    The ‘Tomb of Alineis an ancient Egyptian grave, located in the archaeological site of Hawara, south of Crocodilopolis, near the Faiyum oasis.

    It was excavated by the German archaeologist Richard von Kaufmann in the March of 1892.

    The tomb comprised a shaft leading to a simple mud–brick-lined pit some 9.5 x 11.5 voete (2.8 x 3.5 m) in dimensions.

    The pit contained eight mummies, three of which were adorned with portraits and two had paper masks, while the remainder were unadorned.

    Mummy portraits — sometimes called ‘Fayum portraitsafter the region in which they are usually found — tend to be associated with middle-or-upper-class individuals from Roman Egypt.

    Grave goods found in the tomb included a clay pot with a spray of flowers, which would have been typical for such burials.

    The three portrait-bearing mummies — a woman and two young girls — have been identified based on an inscription as ‘Aline’, ‘daughter of Herodes’, who died age 35 in ‘year 10’.

    It is thought that the two masked mummies — a man and an older girl — likely represent Aline’s husband and elder daughter.

    Based on the Aline’s depicted hairstyle, archaeologists believe that this refers to the 10th year of the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, dating the tomb to 24 AD.

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    The investigation was undertaken by radiologist Stephanie Panzer of the Berufsgenossenschaftliche Unfallklinik Murnau in Germany and her colleagues.

    ‘In ancient Egypt, infections were likely a common aspect of daily life and the major cause of death,’ het die navorsers in hul referaat verduidelik.

    ‘Infancy and childhood have long been recognised as critical periods of increased physiological stress, morbidity and mortality.

    ‘Egter, the overall evidence of infections in ancient mummies is limited, especially in the less frequently investigated child mummies.

    In die studie, Professor Panzer and colleagues undertook whole-body CT scans of 21 ancient Egyptian child mummies that were held in the collections of various German, Italian and Swiss museums.

    The scans revealed that 11 of the mummified children were male, eight were female and two were of indeterminate sex.

    The team’s analysis revealed signs of purulent (pus-bearing) infections in three of the 21 child mummies. One of the mummies, the nameless daughter of Aline, was found to have a bandage-like structure on her lower left leg that the team believe represents a dressed skin lesion.

    Given its detection underneath her textile wrappings, the bandage is believed to be original and was around 0.8 x 0.5 x 0.4 duim (20 x 12 x 9 millimetres) in grootte.

    The scans revealed it had been placed over masses in the underlying tissue that are consistent with dried pus, suggesting that the child had either an abscess or purulent cellulitisan infection of the inner layers of the skin.

    It is unclear why the bandage was left in place over the wound, but the researchers suggest the embalmers may have wanted the body to be as well-prepared as possible for life after death.

    ‘Maybe they tried somehow to continue the healing process for the afterlife,’ paper author and palaeopathologist Albert Zink of Italy’s Institute for Mummy Studies told Business Insider.

    Given its detection underneath her textile wrappings, the mummy's bandage (highlighted with a solid arrow) is believed to be original and was around 0.8 x 0.5 x 0.4 duim (20 x 12 x x millimetres) in grootte. The scans revealed it had been placed over masses in the underlying tissue that are consistent with dried pus (highlighted with a dashed arrow) — suggesting that the child had a either an abscess or purulent cellulitis

    Given its detection underneath her textile wrappings, the mummy’s bandage (highlighted with a solid arrow) is believed to be original and was around 0.8 x 0.5 x 0.4 duim (20 x 12 x 9 millimetres) in grootte. The scans revealed it had been placed over masses in the underlying tissue that are consistent with dried pus (highlighted with a dashed arrow) — suggesting that the child had a either an abscess or purulent cellulitis

    The researchers also scanned the mummy of Aline's youngest daughter (op die foto), who was believed to have been around 2–3 years old at the time of death

    In the mummy of Aline's youngest daughter, the team found evidence of dried pus within the right hip joint (uitgelig), likely caused by septic arthritis

    The researchers also scanned the mummy of Aline’s youngest daughter (links) — believed to have been around 2–3 years old at the time of death — and found evidence of dried pus within part of the right hip joint (reg, highlighted with an arrow), likely caused by septic arthritis

    Op die foto: the two scanned mummies of Aline's daughters, seen here on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, Duitsland. The elder of the pair (links) was found to have a bandage covering a pus-filled wound on her lower left leg, while the youngest (reg) likely had septic arthritis

    Op die foto: the two scanned mummies of Aline’s daughters, seen here on display at the Neues Museum in Berlin, Duitsland. The elder of the pair (links) was found to have a bandage covering a pus-filled wound on her lower left leg, while the youngest (reg) likely had septic arthritis

    How ancient Egyptians treated wounds

    Volgens die span, the ancient Egyptians had a well-established understanding of medical practices.

    ‘We know from other evidence, like papyrus, that they had a good experience of treating wounds and injuries,’ said Dr Zink.

    It was for this reason, verduidelik hy, that is was surprising that this study is the first time a wound dressing has been found in a mummy.

    ‘It’s very likely that they applied some specific herbs or ointment to treat the inflammation of this area,’ hy het bygevoeg.

    Further analysis with physical samples, verduidelik hy, would be needed to explore this idea.

    In die studie, the team used only non-destructive imaging techniques to examine the mummies.

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    The researchers also scanned the mummy of Aline’s youngest daughter — believed to have been around 2–3 years old at the time of death — and found evidence of dried pus within part of the right hip joint, likely caused by septic arthritis.

    The final mummy that showed signs of infection was that of a 9–11-year-old-boy from the Ptolemaic–Roman Period (305 BC–641 AD).

    Scans revealed the presence of dried masses in the lower parts of both maxillary sinuses, which lie below the cheeks on either side of the nose, indicating that he likely suffered from purulent sinusitis.

    The boy also appeared to be suffering from a pus-filled abscess that had originated either in the back of the mouth or in the upper throat, but had reached such an advanced stage of infection that it was impossible to tell which.

    ‘This study appears to be the first to describe radiologically visualised structures consistent with dried pus in ancient Egyptian mummies,’ the team concluded.

    ‘These cases may serve as models for further palaeopathological investigation.

    The investigation, het hulle bygevoeg, ‘also appears to be the first to physically demonstrate an original ancient Egyptian dressing.

    ‘The evidence of an original dressing contributes to our knowledge of ancient Egyptian medicine.

    Die volledige bevindings van die studie is in die International Journal of Paleopathology.

    The final mummy that showed signs of infection was that of a 9–11-year-old-boy (links) from the Ptolemaic–Roman Period (305 BC–641 AD)

    Scans revealed the boy had suffered from a pus-filled absence that originated in either the back of the mouth or in the upper throat (op die foto), but that had reached such an advanced stage of infection it was impossible to tell which

    The final mummy that showed signs of infection was that of a 9–11-year-old-boy (links) from the Ptolemaic–Roman Period (305 BC–641 AD). Scans revealed the boy had suffered from a pus-filled absence that originated in either the back of the mouth or in the upper throat (reg), but that had reached such an advanced stage of infection it was impossible to tell which.

    The child mummy bearing the first-known example of an original ancient Egyptian dressing was found in the 'Tomb of Aline' at Hawara, Egipte, in 1892

    The child mummy bearing the first-known example of an original ancient Egyptian dressing was found in the ‘Tomb of Alineat Hawara, Egipte, in 1892

    HOW ANCIENT EGYPTIANS EMBALMED THEIR DEAD

    Op die foto: a mummified corpse

    Op die foto: a mummified corpse

    It is thought a range of chemicals were used to embalm and preserve the bodies of the dead in ancient cultures.

    Russian scientists believe a different balm was used to preserve hair fashions of the time than the concoctions deployed on the rest of the body.

    Hair was treated with a balm made of a combination of beef fat, castor oil, beeswax and pine gum and with a drop of aromatic pistachio oil as an optional extra.

    Mummification in ancient Egypt involved removing the corpse’s internal organs, desiccating the body with a mixture of salts, and then wrapping it in cloth soaked in a balm of plant extracts, oils, and resins.

    Older mummies are believed to have been naturally preserved by burying them in dry desert sand and were not chemically treated.

    Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) techniques have been deployed in recent years in find out more about the ancient embalming process.

    Studies have found bodies were embalmed with a plant oil (like sesame oil), phenolic acids (likely from an aromatic plant extract and polysaccharide sugars from plants.

    The recipe also featured dehydroabietic acid and other diterpenoids from conifer resin.

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