Body of naturally mummified adult male lying in flexed position.
Skull - Tufts of ginger-coloured hair are present on the scalp. No obvious fractures. Mouth slightly open. All teeth present and appear healthy.
Thorax and Abdomen - Comminuted fracture, 4th left rib. Fracture, anterior third of 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th left ribs. The spinal column is free from fractures and dislocations. The intervertebral discs appear normal. No arthritic changes are present. There is a large, faintly granular opacity within the thorax. Stellate crack fracture on the wing of the left ilium. Fracture through the right pubic ring.
Arms - No definite fractures seen. The left index finger and several of the terminal phalanges of the feet are missing.
Legs - Both femoral shafts are fractured and there is a fracture of the shaft of the left tibia and fibula. Three shells are present on the soft tissue just behind the left knee. No lines of arrested growth are visible.
- 3400BC (c.)
- Excavated/Findspot: Gebelein
- (Africa,Egypt,Upper Egypt,Gebelein)
- Length: 163 centimetres
Publication of body:
W.R Dawson and P.H.K. Gray, Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum. I. Mummies and Human Remains (London 1968), 1, pl. Ia, XXIIa, b;
N. Strudwick, Masterpieces of Ancient Egypt, London 2006, pp. 26-7.
Conservation of body:
C. Johnson and B. Wills, 'The conservation of two pre-dynastic Egyptian bodies' in S.C. Watkins and C.E. Brown (eds.), Conservation of Ancient Egyptian materials (London, United Kingdom Institute for Conservation (UKIC), Archaeology Section, 1988).
A. Rae, 'Dry human and animal remains - their treatment at the British Museum' in K. Spindler et al. (eds.), Human mummies: a global survey of their status and the techniques of conservation, vol. 3: The man in the ice (Wien, Springer, 1996), pp. 33-38.Strudwick N 2006
Until late in the Predynastic period, the Egyptians buried their dead by placing the bodies in shallow graves, in direct contact with the sand, perhaps covered by a mound of earth. The dryness of the sand frequently acted as a preservative, and there are a number of burials from these early periods in which the body is still in excellent condition. Two of these, a man and a woman, are in the British Museum. The male burial is the better known, thanks to his remarkable state of preservation and, in particular, the remains of his ginger-coloured hair. He was a full-grown adult, but his exact age has not been determined. The body was buried in a contracted, almost foetal, position, which continued to be the principal position for burials until well into the Old Kingdom, when bodies were usually buried fully extended. There may be religious reasons for the change, but it is also very likely that the development of mummification practices showed that it was easier to mummify the body in an extended position. Although this man was not placed in a coffin, the earliest such items were arranged to take a contracted body. Mummification is now known to have been practised during the later stages of the prehistoric period, and parts of bodies showing the use of resin and linen wrappings are known from Hierakonpolis at about 3500 BC.
11 February 1993
Reason for treatment
Clean; check relaid skin; relay skin on crown of head and elsewhere where necessary.
Body slightly dusty. Skin lifting on top of head, back, left hip and legs.
Body cleaned with a low powered vacuum cleaner fitted with a rubber hose, and a sable brush. Solvent cleaned with Industrial methylated spirits (ethanol,methanol) rolled over the skin surface on cotton wool swabs. Lifting skin relaid with 10% Mowilith 50 (polyvinyl acetate) in Acetone using IMS as a wetting agent.
Budge's account of uncovering the body is in By Nile and Tigris II, 360-1.
Ancient Egypt & Sudan
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Object reference number: YCA62944
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