Egyptian mummy revealed as a boy dressed in girl’s clothing

November 25, 2010 | by | 3 Comments

A 1,700-year-old Egyptian mummy has been revealed as a boy dressed in girl’s clothing thanks to these incredible hospital scans.

Egyptian mummy revealed as a boy dressed in girl's clothing

The child, who lived around 350AD, underwent scans as experts hoped to determine its sex and discover how it suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage.

The mummy, housed at Saffron Walden Museum in Essex, was shrouded in mystery after it was discovered in a private collection in 1878.

However, studies last year discovered it was wrapped in clothing adorned in feminine symbols, wearing girl’s breast cones and a female bracelet.

Ground-breaking CT scans carried out at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, have finally solved the mystery revealing the mummy is a boy dressed in girl’s clothing.

These stunning images also show that the boy, aged four to five, mysteriously suffered a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage and a broken collarbone before dying.

Museum curator Carolyn Wingfield said the mummy was also two or three years younger than first believed.

Egyptian mummy revealed as a boy dressed in girl's clothing

She said: ”Clear pictures of internal organs, bones and wrappings were obtained which confirmed the sex as male, and from tooth and bone growth the child was aged to four to five years of age.

”His bones were sturdy, but a fracture was visible above the right temple, and the right collarbone was fractured, also before death.

”An accident or fall may have befallen him about three weeks before it caused his end. There was no evidence of disease.

”Obviously the child of a well-off family. He was embalmed and wrapped in fine linen with a stiffening rod of wood placed along his back for support.

Egyptian mummy revealed as a boy dressed in girl's clothing

”Why he was finally wrapped in a woman’s painted shroud is a mystery.”

Neuro-radiographer Halina Szutowicz, who conducted the scans, said the results ruled out a previous theory that the child had been murdered.

The mummy wrapped in a hessian-like material had facial bones and teeth still intact and although the heart and lungs had been removed the liver remained inside.

She said: ”It’s a boy. It’s not always obvious and you need to know what you are looking for.”

The mummy has been one of the most important exhibits in Saffron Walden Museum’s collection of Egyptian antiquities since 1878.

Little is known about how the mummy came to Britain but it is believed to have been excavated from a cemetery at Deir-el-Bahri, Thebes, then transported to Britain.

Egyptian mummy revealed as a boy dressed in girl's clothing

Museum records show it was acquired from the former Mayor of Cambridge Frederic Barlow in 1878.

X-rays taken in the 1980s suggested that the mummy was aged around 7 years and nine months.

The mummy was given CT scans at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge on Saturday to carry out a detailed study of the body without damaging the bones.

Stunned radiologists discovered two breast cones clearly visible on the chest and a golden bangle usually worn by females.

However, detailed analysis of pelvic bones and teeth confirmed the mummy is a boy despite its female adornments.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Gina says:

    I think this is awesome, actually. Perhaps a young transgirl with accepting parents? The world needs more of those *sagenods*

  2. Melanie Davis says:

    Because they only used pelvic scans to determine the sex of the child and not a physical examination of the genitals or DNA testing, there is a chance she was intersex. Obviously, the child was buried as a girl, so she probably was being raised as a girl, and in a world of strict gender roles, there would be a good reason for that. I use feminine pronouns because of this reasoning. It happens all the time, today, so why not then?

    • Knstt says:

      I thought the same thing. Intersex conditions are so much more common than most people realize. Gender is NOT a “black and white” affair, but, as with most other things, a more fluid and nuanced situation. There is every indication that, as long ago as this child lived, they firmly believed that she was a simply a girl and had no reason to believe otherwise. Particularly at this early age.

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