In a new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Polish archaeologists say they have found a mummy that is unique because it was pregnant.
The ancient Egyptian mummy and its sarcophagus, named Hor-Djehuty, were donated to the University of Warsaw, Poland, in 1826 and have been held in the National Museum of Art in Warsaw, Poland, since 1917.
At first, archaeologists thought it was a female mummy because of the elaborate sarcophagus. But it was not until around 1920, when archaeologists translated the sarcophagus and related materials, that the mummy, named Hor-Djehuty, was a male and held a prominent position at the time.
In 2016, a CT scan revealed that the mummy in the sarcophagus was not Hor-Djehuty herself, as the mummy had no male genitalia, and a 3D reconstruction of the auty model revealed features of a female breast.
First in the world! Archaeologists have found a pregnant mummy: a seven-month-old fetus
The image is from the National Museum of Art in Warsaw
Most oddly, on the mummy's abdomen, the image also shows a bone shaped like a foot. Further analysis revealed that the bone was a tiny fetus that had been mummified along with its mother.
Wojciech Ejsmond, an archaeologist at the University of Warsaw, said: "It's really unique. It's the only mummy ever found with a fetus inside the womb." However, it is not clear why the baby was not removed during the process.
The mummy was more than 2,000 years old and the deceased was believed to be between 20 and 30 years old. Judging from the size of the fetus, she was between 26 and 30 weeks pregnant.
Although it is not clear why the female mummy died, researchers suspect that pregnancy may have been the cause of her death, as there was a high rate of death during pregnancy and childbirth in those days.