An ancient Egyptian mummy that researchers thought was a male priest turned out to be a woman who was seven months pregnant.
X-rays and computer tests revealed the truth of the mummy’s gender, shocking Polish researchers. The discovery of the pregnant mummy makes it the world’s first known case of such a well-preserved ancient mummy of a pregnant woman, researchers said.
The mummy was brought to Warsaw in the early 1800s and had an inscription on the coffin that referenced a male priest.
“Our first surprise was that it has no penis, but instead it has breasts and long hair, and then we found out that it’s a pregnant woman,” Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist and archaeologist, told the Associated Press. “When we saw the little foot and then the little hand [of the foetus], we were really shocked.”
Researchers believe the woman was between 20-30 years old, and the baby’s skull suggested that she was 26 to 28 weeks pregnant.
“We do not know why the foetus was not taken out of the belly of the deceased during mummification. That is why this mummy is truly unique. We have not been able to find any similar cases. This means that ‘our’ mummy is the only recognized in the world with a foetus,” team member Wojciech Ejsmond.