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Archaeologists in Egypt unearth an eerie cache of golden-tongued mummies

Corpses dating back to Greek and Roman eras likely received gilded organs to better speak to Osiris, lord of the underworld

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

A 2,000-year-old mummy with a gold tongue found near the city of Alexandria and revealed on January 29, 2021. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
A 2,000-year-old mummy with a gold tongue found near the city of Alexandria and revealed on January 29, 2021. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Archaeologists in Egypt have found a cache of eerie gold-tongued mummies in tombs cut out of rock near the northern city of Alexandria.

The 16 burials date back some 2,000 years to the Greek and Roman eras. They were unearthed by an Egyptian-Dominican team near the ancient Taposiris Magna temple.

The mummies were poorly preserved and characteristic of their era, which came long after the heyday of Egypt’s pyramid-building old dynasties.

The tongues were made of gold foil, likely in the belief they would allow the deceased to speak in the afterlife to Osiris, the ancient Egyptian religion’s lord of the underworld and judge of the dead.

They were likely placed in the dead person’s mouth during the embalming process, after the actual tongue was removed.

The team also found a woman’s funeral mask, golden flakes representing leaves on a gold wreathe and eight marble masks.

Researchers working at the same site have previously found ancient coins bearing the name and image of Queen Cleopatra VII, the fabled final queen of Egypt during the close of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Kingdom.

She ruled from 51 BC until her death in 30 BC, when Rome took over the land.

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