A statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities informed that an Italian-American mission working on the project of Aswan-Kom Ombo in southern Egypt has discovered a tomb that included the mummy of a pregnant woman.
The find which dates to around 1500BC was found in a small cemetery, said Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The cemetery had been used by nomadic people who moved to Egypt from the desert hinterland of its southern neighbour, Nubia, during the Second Intermediate Period (1750-1550 BC).
Studies revealed that the woman was about 25 years old at the time of her death and that she had been close to giving birth. Dr Waziri explined that the baby’s skeleton was found in his mother pelvic area, and had already settled in a ‘head-down’ position, hinting to the possibility that both mother and child may have died during childbirth. Although the process of labour was near, preliminary analysis of the mother’s remains has revealed a misalignment in the woman’s pelvis, most likely the result of a fracture that had healed incorrectly.
It is possible that this abnormality had caused problems during labour leading to the pair’s premature death.
Two pottery vessels were found in the tomb, as if to accompany the mother on her journey to the afterlife: one was a small Egyptian jar, worn down by years of use; the other was a fine bowl with a red polished surface and black interior. The latter was an item that was commonly produced by nomadic communities in Nubian life.
Dr Waziri mentioned that the mission was also found an unexpected offering in the tomb, consisting of many unfinished ostrich eggshell beads and blank fragments. Although the significance of the offering is not clearly understood scholars theorise that the woman could have been a beadmaker; thus, her family placed unworked material in the woman’s grave to honour her memory.
Deaths caused by pregnancy and labour difficulties in ancient Egypt were a common occurrence. As such, the Egyptians invoked the protection of female deities such as Hathor, Taweret and Bes.
Many children did not outlive the labour process. A such, pregnancies and birthing were considered risky moments in which magic and divine protection were needed.
17 November 2018