Sunday 21 September, 2014

What happened to this Egyptian mummy’s heart?

Published On: Mon, Apr 7th, 2014 | Archaeology | By BioNews

An ancient Egyptian mummy – found with an intact brain but no heart – has left researchers puzzled as why the heart was removed.

The mummy also has a plaque on her abdomen, probably to ritually heal her, said a team of researchers that examined the female body with CT scans.

The woman probably lived around 1,700 years ago, at a time when Egypt was under Roman rule and Christianity was spreading, media reports said.

The mummy and its coffin, now at the Redpath Museum at McGill University in Montreal, were purchased at Luxor in the 19th century.

To remove her organs, the scans show, the embalmers created a hole through her perineum and removed her intestines, stomach, liver and even her heart.

Her brain, however, was left intact.

The heart played a central role in ancient Egyptian religion, being weighed against the feather of maat (an Egyptian concept that included truth and justice) to see if one was worthy of entering the afterlife.

“We do not really know what happened to the hearts that were removed,” Andrew Wade, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, was quoted as saying in a LiveScience report.

During some time periods, the hearts may have been put in canopic jars, a type of jar used to hold internal organs, though tissue analysis is needed to confirm this idea, Wade added.

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