Researchers have discovered that an enigmatic ancient Egyptian woman’s mummy indicates she most likely had cancer and was pregnant at the time of her death.
A large tumor behind the left eye was discovered by deformities in the mummy’s skull, but further examinations were required to determine if the tumor was malignant.
The enigmatic mummy known as the “Mysterious Lady” could have originated in Thebes, an ancient Egyptian city that is now Luxor. It was discovered in the coffin of a male monk and dated to the first century BC.
The bones of an unidentified lady were unexpectedly found inside the coffin by Polish researchers working on the Warsaw Mummy Project, who had just opened it for the first time. In an attempt to uncover the reason for her being placed in someone else’s coffin, they have started examining the corpse.
According to a report released by the project’s experts in April 2021, the “Mysterious Lady”‘s CT scans showed the remnants of a baby that had died within the uterus. The first pregnant mummy in history.
According to the team’s estimation, the mother passed at about 28 weeks into her pregnancy. The Polish research team’s follow-up study from January 2022 detailed the process of embalming the fetus like an egg. The petrified fetus may have really been inserted into the corpse to replace parts that were taken during the mummification process, according to some researchers who have questioned whether the mummy was pregnant.
According to a study team working on the Warsaw Mummy project, the “mystery woman” most likely suffered from nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a malignancy that affects the trachea, nasal cavity, and mouth.
The new assertions are supported by abnormalities discovered in the mummy’s skull, although neither peer review nor chemical testing have been performed on the results yet.
After a recent 3D reconstruction of the “Mysterious Lady’s” skull revealed a 7mm hole below the left eye socket, researchers became aware of the possible malignancy for the first time. According to Marzena Ożarek-Szilke, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project and an archaeologist and anthropologist at Warsaw Medical University, this odd gap indicates that a tumor or lesion has grown there and driven the surrounding bone away from the rest.
Alternatively, according to Ożarek-Szilke, the hole can be caused by a cyst or cribra orbitalia, a disorder that can alter the surface of the eye socket and is sometimes brought on by anemia or iron shortage (common in pregnancy). Cancer is most likely to be the culprit, however, due to other small abnormalities in the sinus, jaw, and nasal cavity bones.
Should these anomalies really stem from cancer, the illness may have claimed the life of the “Mysterious Lady.”
It’s difficult to determine for sure, but cancer may have been the primary cause of her death. Additionally, Ożarek-Szilke said that there’s a chance the woman’s pregnancy contributed to her demise.
Finding deceased human mummies in this condition is uncommon, therefore researchers are thrilled about the possible finding. The “Mysterious Lady” still has a lot of unanswered questions, however, such how and why she was discovered in the wrong coffin.