CAIRO: An Italian-American mission has discovered an ancient tomb containing a pregnant woman and her fetus during an archaeological dig in southern Egyp
The woman was found in a grave-pit, inside a small cemetery, with the skeletal remains of the unborn baby head facing down still in her stomach, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said.
The grave in Kom Ombo, in Aswan province, is more than 3,500 years old, Dr. Mostafa Waziri, the General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said on Wednesday.
The study found the woman was around 25 years old when she died, and her death could have been due to a problem with her pregnancy.
That the baby was positioned head-down, meant the team believed the mother and child could have died during childbirth.
“There’s something very poignant and quite sweet about it, but also very sad,” Nigel Hetherington, an Egypt-based archaeologist and heritage consultant said about the find.
The find was made by the Aswan-Kom Ombo Archaeological Project (AKAP), led by Yale University and University of Bologna. The project has investigated selected areas in the Aswan-Kom Ombo region since 2005.
Preliminary analysis of the mother’s corpse also revealed that the woman’s pelvis was misaligned, which could have been a fracture that hadn’t healed properly.
Waziri said the injury could have been the cause of the labor problems.
The skeleton in the grave pit was found wrapped in a leather burial shroud.
There were also two pottery vessels in the grave – one a small jar, the other a fine bowl that appeared to have once been polished in red on the outside, and black on the inside, a Nubian style; this kind of vessel was popular in nomadic communities.
The vessels were presumed to be offerings carried into the woman’s afterlife. This was why ancient Egyptians tended to pray to female deities like Hathor, Taweret, and Bes.
The archaeological mission also found numerous unfinished ostrich eggshell beads and black fragments, which Dr. Waziri also speculated was an offering.
Scholars think that beads were being offered to the woman because she could have been a bead maker for a living.
“The beads were common, but they were for the burial for the poor, since they weren’t gold beads, it makes sense,” Ahmed Salah, an Egyptology graduate from the American University of Cairo, told Arab News.
Kom Ombo is about 48 kilometers north of Aswan, east of the Nile River.
Recently, three tombs of cats were also found at a pyramid complex in Saqqara, Egypt, as well as four other sarcophagi at Khufu-Imhat’s site.
Egypt Ministry of Antiquities has been revealing many ancient Egyptian discoveries recently.
Egypt is trying to boost tourism, which is on the rise after significantly dropping since the 2011 Arab Spring.