Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials
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{"title"=>"Evidence for prehistoric origins of Egyptian mummification in late Neolithic burials", "type"=>"journal", "authors"=>[{"first_name"=>"Jana", "last_name"=>"Jones", "scopus_author_id"=>"55488148400"}, {"first_name"=>"Thomas F G", "last_name"=>"Higham", "scopus_author_id"=>"7003799879"}, {"first_name"=>"Ron", "last_name"=>"Oldfield", "scopus_author_id"=>"8541586800"}, {"first_name"=>"Terry P.", "last_name"=>"O'Connor", "scopus_author_id"=>"7402142380"}, {"first_name"=>"Stephen A.", "last_name"=>"Buckley", "scopus_author_id"=>"7101613837"}], "year"=>2014, "source"=>"PLoS ONE", "identifiers"=>{"pmid"=>"25118605", "doi"=>"10.1371/journal.pone.0103608", "sgr"=>"84905924509", "isbn"=>"1932-6203 (Electronic) 1932-6203 (Linking)", "scopus"=>"2-s2.0-84905924509", "issn"=>"19326203", "pui"=>"373752575"}, "id"=>"ecefda90-225b-337a-a129-9d2e52baf39e", "abstract"=>"Traditional theories on ancient Egyptian mummification postulate that in the prehistoric period (i.e. the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, 5th and 4th millennia B.C.) bodies were naturally desiccated through the action of the hot, dry desert sand. Although molding of the body with resin-impregnated linen is believed to be an early Pharaonic forerunner to more complex processes, scientific evidence for the early use of resins in artificial mummification has until now been limited to isolated occurrences during the late Old Kingdom (c. 2200 B.C.), their use becoming more apparent during the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-1600 BC). We examined linen wrappings from bodies in securely provenanced tombs (pit graves) in the earliest recorded ancient Egyptian cemeteries at Mostagedda in the Badari region (Upper Egypt). Our investigations of these prehistoric funerary wrappings using a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and thermal desorption/pyrolysis (TD/Py)-GC-MS have identified a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum/sugar, a natural petroleum source, and a plant oil/animal fat in directly AMS-dated funerary wrappings. Predating the earliest scientific evidence by more than a millennium, these embalming agents constitute complex, processed recipes of the same natural products, in similar proportions, as those utilized at the zenith of Pharaonic mummification some 3,000 years later. The antibacterial properties of some of these ingredients and the localized soft-tissue preservation that they would have afforded lead us to conclude that these represent the very beginnings of experimentation that would evolve into the famous mummification practice of the Pharaonic period.", "link"=>"http://www.mendeley.com/research/evidence-prehistoric-origins-egyptian-mummification-late-neolithic-burials", "reader_count"=>43, "reader_count_by_academic_status"=>{"Unspecified"=>1, "Professor > Associate Professor"=>2, "Researcher"=>9, "Student > Doctoral Student"=>2, "Student > Ph. D. Student"=>8, "Student > Postgraduate"=>1, "Other"=>2, "Student > Master"=>7, "Student > Bachelor"=>5, "Lecturer"=>1, "Professor"=>5}, "reader_count_by_user_role"=>{"Unspecified"=>1, "Professor > Associate Professor"=>2, "Researcher"=>9, "Student > Doctoral Student"=>2, "Student > Ph. D. Student"=>8, "Student > Postgraduate"=>1, "Other"=>2, "Student > Master"=>7, "Student > Bachelor"=>5, "Lecturer"=>1, "Professor"=>5}, "reader_count_by_subject_area"=>{"Unspecified"=>2, "Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>2, "Materials Science"=>1, "Medicine and Dentistry"=>2, "Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>8, "Arts and Humanities"=>13, "Chemistry"=>7, "Social Sciences"=>3, "Earth and Planetary Sciences"=>2, "Linguistics"=>1, "Economics, Econometrics and Finance"=>1, "Business, Management and Accounting"=>1}, "reader_count_by_subdiscipline"=>{"Materials Science"=>{"Materials Science"=>1}, "Medicine and Dentistry"=>{"Medicine and Dentistry"=>2}, "Chemistry"=>{"Chemistry"=>7}, "Social Sciences"=>{"Social Sciences"=>3}, "Earth and Planetary Sciences"=>{"Earth and Planetary Sciences"=>2}, "Economics, Econometrics and Finance"=>{"Economics, Econometrics and Finance"=>1}, "Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>{"Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>8}, "Linguistics"=>{"Linguistics"=>1}, "Business, Management and Accounting"=>{"Business, Management and Accounting"=>1}, "Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>{"Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>2}, "Unspecified"=>{"Unspecified"=>2}, "Arts and Humanities"=>{"Arts and Humanities"=>13}}, "reader_count_by_country"=>{"Canada"=>1, "Belgium"=>1, "Brazil"=>1, "Israel"=>1, "Switzerland"=>1, "Spain"=>1}, "group_count"=>0}

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Figshare

  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634157"], "description"=>"<p>The table displays the data corresponding to these probability distributions at 68.2% and 95.4% probability. The shaded areas denote the accepted archaeological age range for the Badarian (top of picture) and Naqada IIC period (bottom) respectively. (Figure generated using OxCal 4.1 (Bronk Ramsey 2009)).</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137814, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.g001", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>2, "page_views"=>17, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Calibrated_ages_for_the_corrected_textile_dated_samples_/1137814", "title"=>"Calibrated ages for the corrected textile dated samples.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634158"], "description"=>"<p>The most convincing depiction of the ‘toffee-like’ (presumed) ‘resin’ was effected in the light microscope using HD illumination.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137815, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.g002", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>4, "page_views"=>24, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_33_30_44_Tomb_No_3538_Badarian_Period_Mostagedda_/1137815", "title"=>"33.30.44 Tomb No. 3538, Badarian Period, Mostagedda.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634159"], "description"=>"<p>Histograms show the distributions of diterpenoid acids: P = pimaric acid, S = sandaracopimaric acid, I = isopimaric acid, A = abietic acid, D = dehydroabietic acid, O = 7-oxodehydroabietic acid, R = retene, MD = methyl dehydroabietate, MO = methyl 7-oxodehydroabietate present in samples where pine resin has been specifically identified (see <a href=\"http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608#pone-0103608-t001\" target=\"_blank\">Table 1</a>). The retene, methyl dehydroabietate and methyl 7-oxodehydroabietate reflect the degree of heating/processing the pine resin has undergone, prior to application to the linen/bodies as part of the ancient recipes.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137816, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.g003", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>2, "page_views"=>15, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Chemical_analyses_of_samples_taken_from_the_bodies_and_their_wrappings_in_this_research_/1137816", "title"=>"Chemical analyses of samples taken from the bodies and their wrappings in this research.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634160"], "description"=>"<p>Peak identities (‘n’ indicates carbon chain length; where shown, i indicates degree of unsaturation): filled triangles, C<sub>n:i</sub> indicates fatty acids; filled squares, C<sub>n</sub> indicates α,ù-dicarboxylic acids; filled inverted triangles, C<sub>n:i</sub> indicates 2-hydroxy fatty acids; open inverted triangle, C<sub>n:i</sub> indicates 2,3-dihydroxy fatty acid. Also shown are the structures of four aromatic acids identified: benzoic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzoic acid) and syringic acid (4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxybenzoic acid); one monoterpenoid: thymol; six diterpenoids: pimaric acid (P), sandaracopimaric acid (S), isopimaric acid (I), dehydroabietic acid (D), abietic acid (A) and 7-oxo-dehydroabietic acid (O) (labeled as in <a href=\"http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608#pone-0103608-g003\" target=\"_blank\">Figure 3</a>) and four steroidal compounds identified: stigmasta-3,5,22-triene, cholesterol, cholesta-3,5-dien-7-one and β-sitosterol; the letters ds represent a disaccharide. Inset displays a partial reconstructed GC-MS TIC of this sample focusing on the diterpenoid (resin) acids and showing the molecular structures of five of those identified: pimaric acid, isopimaric acid, dehydroabietic acid, abietic acid and 7-oxodehydroabietic acid.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137817, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.g004", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>17, "page_views"=>515, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Reconstructed_gas_chromatography_mass_spectrometry_GC_MS_total_ion_chromatogram_TIC_of_the_trimethylsilylated_total_lipid_extract_of_33_30_44_2_/1137817", "title"=>"Reconstructed gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) total ion chromatogram (TIC) of the trimethylsilylated total lipid extract of 33.30.44 2.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634161"], "description"=>"<p>Histograms show the distributions of C<sub>15+</sub> n-alkanes from samples containing a natural petroleum seep (the samples containing the highest abundance of natural petroleum for each burial are presented; see <a href=\"http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608#pone-0103608-t001\" target=\"_blank\">Table 1</a>).</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137818, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.g005", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>3, "page_views"=>18, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Chemical_analyses_of_samples_taken_from_the_bodies_and_their_wrappings_in_this_research_/1137818", "title"=>"Chemical analyses of samples taken from the bodies and their wrappings in this research.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634162"], "description"=>"<p>Plot of Pr/<i>n</i>-C<sub>17</sub> versus Ph/<i>n</i>-C<sub>18</sub> cross plot showing the source and depositional environments of the natural petroleum seeps (the samples containing the highest abundance of natural petroleum for each burial are presented; see <a href=\"http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608#pone-0103608-t001\" target=\"_blank\"><b>Table 1</b></a>): 44 = 33.30.44 3, 72 = 33.30.72 1, 33.30.80 4, 30 = 33.30.30 1, 53 = 33.30.53 1, 59 = 33.30.59 1, 92 = 33.30.92 2.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137819, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.g006", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>14, "page_views"=>382, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Plot_of_Pr_n_C_17_versus_Ph_n_C_18_cross_plot_showing_the_source_and_depositional_environments_of_the_natural_petroleum_seeps_the_samples_containing_the_highest_abundance_of_natural_petroleum_for_each_burial_are_presented_see_Table_1_44_33_30_44_3_72_33_/1137819", "title"=>"Plot of Pr/<i>n</i>-C<sub>17</sub> versus Ph/<i>n</i>-C<sub>18</sub> cross plot showing the source and depositional environments of the natural petroleum seeps (the samples containing the highest abundance of natural petroleum for each burial are presented; see <b>Table 1</b>): 44 = 33.30.44 3, 72 = 33.30.72 1, 33.30.80 4, 30 = 33.30.30 1, 53 = 33.30.53 1, 59 = 33.30.59 1, 92 = 33.30.92 2.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>1, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634163"], "description"=>"1<p>All samples in this study were from Bolton Museum.</p>2<p>The term ‘resin’ denotes physical appearance and does <u>not</u> presuppose any chemical composition or biological origin.</p>3<p>Percentage of the extracted ancient ‘resin’, i.e. ‘balms’, was quantified by the weight of extract minus the Zellon component (determined by GC and GC/MS; also see radiocarbon SI), and, where sample sizes were sufficient (see text), internal standards added at the extraction stage. Percentage relative abundance of components in extracted ‘balms’ based on relative peak areas, and, where present, corroborated by internal standards added at the extraction stage. Compositions do not imply that they were the original formulations due to possible chemical changes over time.</p><p>*after Brunton 1937.</p>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137820, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608.t001", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>4, "page_views"=>25, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Mostagedda_8216_mummy_8217_textiles_origin_of_balm_samples_the_abundance_of_ancient_8216_resin_8217_in_the_textiles_and_their_chemical_composition_/1137820", "title"=>"Mostagedda ‘mummy’ textiles, origin of balm samples, the abundance of ancient ‘resin’ in the textiles, and their chemical composition.", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>3, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}
  • {"files"=>["https://ndownloader.figshare.com/files/1634164"], "description"=>"<div><p>Traditional theories on ancient Egyptian mummification postulate that in the prehistoric period (i.e. the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, 5<sup>th</sup> and 4<sup>th</sup> millennia B.C.) bodies were naturally desiccated through the action of the hot, dry desert sand. Although molding of the body with resin-impregnated linen is believed to be an early Pharaonic forerunner to more complex processes, scientific evidence for the early use of resins in artificial mummification has until now been limited to isolated occurrences during the late Old Kingdom (c. 2200 B.C.), their use becoming more apparent during the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-1600 BC). We examined linen wrappings from bodies in securely provenanced tombs (pit graves) in the earliest recorded ancient Egyptian cemeteries at Mostagedda in the Badari region (Upper Egypt). Our investigations of these prehistoric funerary wrappings using a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and thermal desorption/pyrolysis (TD/Py)-GC-MS have identified a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum/sugar, a natural petroleum source, and a plant oil/animal fat in directly AMS-dated funerary wrappings. Predating the earliest scientific evidence by more than a millennium, these embalming agents constitute complex, processed recipes of the same natural products, in similar proportions, as those utilized at the zenith of Pharaonic mummification some 3,000 years later. The antibacterial properties of some of these ingredients and the localized soft-tissue preservation that they would have afforded lead us to conclude that these represent the very beginnings of experimentation that would evolve into the famous mummification practice of the Pharaonic period.</p></div>", "links"=>[], "tags"=>["bc", "funerary wrappings", "Chalcolithic periods", "mummification practice", "embalming agents", "pine resin", "pit graves", "linen wrappings", "Middle Kingdom", "Badari region", "Egyptian cemeteries", "Pharaonic forerunner", "Pharaonic period", "Upper Egypt", "Neolithic Burials", "provenanced tombs", "desert sand", "B.C", "Prehistoric Origins", "evidence", "petroleum source", "Old Kingdom", "td", "Egyptian Mummification", "Pharaonic mummification"], "article_id"=>1137821, "categories"=>["Biological Sciences", "Science Policy", "Ecology"], "users"=>["Jana Jones", "Thomas F. G. Higham", "Ron Oldfield", "Terry P. O'Connor", "Stephen A. Buckley"], "doi"=>"https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103608", "stats"=>{"downloads"=>4, "page_views"=>24, "likes"=>0}, "figshare_url"=>"https://figshare.com/articles/_Evidence_for_Prehistoric_Origins_of_Egyptian_Mummification_in_Late_Neolithic_Burials_/1137821", "title"=>"Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials", "pos_in_sequence"=>0, "defined_type"=>3, "published_date"=>"2014-08-13 04:23:26"}

PMC Usage Stats | Further Information

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Relative Metric

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