Archaeologists can’t exactly call a 3,000 year old mummy “new,” but they can continue to expand their knowledge in the field of Egyptology when mummies or artifacts are discovered. Such was the case in Luxor, Egypt, in late 2016, when the sarcophagus of Amenrenef was uncovered in the Temple of Millions of Years. What secrets can 3,000-year-old mummies tell?
If you are looking for research paper topics in archaeology, consider following developing discoveries in Egyptology, such as Amenrenef’s tomb, the tattoos discovered on a female mummy from the same era, or the Lady of Jewels discovered in 2014.
Myriam Seco Álvarez of the Spanish archaeology team that uncovered Amenrenef’s tomb wrote that the temple where he was found was used as a necropolis when it wasn’t a place of worship. “Until now we knew about the necropolis under the temple dated to the Middle Kingdom,” she explained in Christian Science Monitor article “Luxor mummy: Archaeologists unearth 3,000 year old sarcophagus,” posted November 15, 2016, referring to the Middle Kingdom era of Egyptian history, which dates circa 2050 to 1800 B.C.E. She continued, “But we didn’t know about the Late Period tombs and this one of the Third Intermediate Period,” which took place around 1,000 B.C.E.
The archaeologists found the sarcophagus, which is brightly colored and made of wood, in good condition, which should allow them to study the mummy in detail. The mummy was wrapped in linen that had been coated with plaster. Archaeologists believe Amenrenef was a noble who was a servant in the royal household. Symbols associated with the goddesses Isis and Nephtys, as well as the four sons of Horus, decorate the tomb.
Interesting research paper topics relating to the tomb of Amenrenef could include the relationship between the Temple of Millions of Years and the necropolis, how archaeologists determined Amenrenef’s identity, or the roles of the Egyptian gods depicted in the tomb in relation to the mummy.
Stanford archaeologist Anne Austin initially though the body of the mummy she was studying, which had been found near Deir el-Medina, Egypt, was damaged. But she and the team determined that the bruise-blue lines around the mummy’s throat were permanent tattoos. Austin’s team identified 30 different tattoos along the woman’s body. “Many of the tattoos are linked with the goddess Hathor, including two cows wearing Menat necklaces on her arm,” Austin told a writer for the Arlington Heights, IL Daily Herald in the article “Tattoos Found on 3,000 Year Old Remains,” published May 27, 2016.
But while it’s clear the woman was tattooed, archaeologists are stymied on how those tattoos were created. “It is difficult to determine how tattoos were made in the past, and given the scant evidence so far, we can’t say how her tattoos were applied,” Austin explained. Austin also noted that several of the tattoos were applied in very sensitive areas of the body, including the mummy’s neck. She also noted that the placement and the divine imagery led her to believe the tattoos were related to ritual activity.
The Deir el-Medina mummy is not the oldest mummy to be found with tattoos, however. The oldest discovered tattooed mummy is Otzi the Iceman, the natural mummy discovered in the Alps, who is believed to have lived around 3,300 B.C.E.
Other famous mummies
If you are looking for other research paper topics in archaeology, mummies discovered worldwide could lead you to interesting projects.
- Otzi the Iceman had a 2016 team working to digitally recreate the mummy’s voice, using CT scans.
- The Lady of Jewels, a 4,000 year old mummy, was unearthed in 2014. Her tomb had not been robbed because a roof had collapsed on it, preserving it among other looted tombs.
- A May 28, 2013, History.com article, “5 Great Mummy Discoveries,” gave a brief description of discoveries including Ginger, noted for the mummy’s red hair, and the discoveries in the Valley of Golden Mummies.
What do you think mummies can tell researchers? Gives us your thoughts in the comments.