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Polish researchers have announced the discovery of the world’s first known case of an embalmed pregnant woman, after initially believing that the mummy was a male priest.
Researchers were surprised when research and X-rays revealed the true identity of the mummy, first brought to Warsaw, Poland in 1826, the Associated Press reported.
“Our first surprise was that she didn’t have a penis, but instead had breasts and long hair, and then we found out she was a pregnant woman,” Marchena Ozarek-Schilke, an anthropologist and archaeologist, told the Associated Press. “When we saw the little leg and then the little arm (of the fetus), we were really shocked.”
The mummy was previously thought to be a male priest because of the inscription on the coffin and was not studied until the mummy project in Warsaw, an initiative to study human and animal mummies from ancient Egypt at the National Museum in Warsaw, which began in 2015.
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The woman is believed to have been between 20 and 30 years old when she died, and the fetus was between 26 and 30 weeks old.
The mummy is believed to have been found in royal tombs in Thebes, an ancient Egyptian city along the Nile, although the claim has not been proven, CNN reports.
The mummification process usually involved the removal of organs from the abdomen and chest, confusing researchers as to why the fetus was not removed.
“We don’t know why it was left there. Maybe there was a religious reason. Maybe they thought that the unborn child had no soul or that it would be safer in the next world. Or maybe because it was very difficult to remove a child at this stage. from the womb without causing serious damage, “Wojciech Aysmond, co-founder of the Mummy in Warsaw project, told CNN.
The researchers announced their findings Wednesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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