Scientists claim that the discovery of a mummy belonging to a high-ranking nobleman proves that Ancient Egyptians carried out mummifications 1000 years earlier than previously believed.

  • The embalmed corpse of ‘Khuwy’ the nobleman was found in Saqqara necropolis
  • Khuwy was buried with tree sap resin and bound with fine bandages
  • This suggests that existing mummification timelines are incorrect.
  • A National Geographic documentary, coming on Nov 7, to explore the discovery

A newly discovered Egyptian mummy could cause history books to be torn up as Egyptologists question the established timeline for mummification techniques.

The advanced mummification techniques used in Khuwy’s preservation, one of the oldest mummies ever discovered, amazed archaeologists. This is a sign of a level previously thought to not have been possible until much later in ancient Egyptian history.

Techniques used to preserve the entombed corpse of Khuwy, a high-ranking nobleman who lived during the Old Kingdom (2575 BC to 2150 BC), included the use of expensive resins made from tree sap to preserve his skin and the binding of his body with the highest-grade bandages – techniques previously believed to originate 1,000 years after Khuwy’s time.

Inside Khuwi's tomb, which was discovered in 2019 at the Saqqara necropolis, about 20 miles south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo

Inside Khuwi’s Tomb, which was discovered at the Saqara Necropolis in 2019, about 20 miles south-east of Cairo.

Professor Salima Ikram, head of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, said the exceptionally well-preserved corpse of Khuwi could lead to history books being 'revised'

Professor Salima Ikram, head Egyptology at the American University of Cairo, stated that the exceptionally well preserved corpse of Khuwi could be a catalyst for history books being’revised.

Professor Salima Ikram of American University in Cairo is head of Egyptology. She told the Observer that experts previously believed mummification during the Old Kingdom was far more limited.

Professor Ikram said: ‘Until now, we had thought that Old Kingdom mummification was relatively simple, with basic desiccation – not always successful – no removal of the brain, and only occasional removal of the internal organs.

‘Indeed, more attention was paid to the exterior appearance of the deceased than the interior.

‘Also, the use of resins is far more limited in the Old Kingdom mummies thus far recorded.

‘This mummy is awash with resins and textiles and gives a completely different impression of mummification. It actually looks more like mummies discovered 1,000 years later. 

She added: ‘If this is indeed an Old Kingdom mummy, all books about mummification and the history of the Old Kingdom will need to be revised. 

“This would completely transform our understanding of evolution of mummification. Our understanding of Old Kingdom Egypt will be dramatically affected by the materials used, their origins and the trade routes that were associated with them.

The entombed body of Khuwy was exhumed in 2019 in the necropolis at Saqqara, with the event being caught on camera by National Geographic.  

Hieroglyphs inside Khuwi's tomb (pictured) allowed Egyptologists to deduce it was the final resting place of a nobleman who lived during the Old Kingdom period (2575 BC to 2150 BC)

Hieroglyphs inside Khuwi’s tomb (pictured) allowed Egyptologists to deduce it was the final resting place of a nobleman who lived during the Old Kingdom period (2575 BC to 2150 BC)

The tomb contained hieroglyphs that date back to 4000-year-old. These helped identify the corpse’s identity. 

National Geographic has released Lost Treasures of Egypt, a documentary that will show the investigation into the dating of Khuwy’s exhumed bones. It will air on 7 November.    

Tom Cook, producer of Lost Treasures of Egypt said that they knew the pottery in the grave was Old Kingdom pottery but [Ikram] didn’t think that the mummy was from [that period]Because it was preserved too good. 

‘They didn’t think the mummification process [then]That was so advanced. Her initial reaction was to say, “This is definitely not the Old Kingdom.” 

“But, over the course the investigation she started coming around.” [to the idea]?.