Gebelein predynastic mummies
The Gebelein predynastic mummies are six naturally mummified bodies, dating to approximately 3400 BC from the Late Predynastic period of Ancient Egypt.
They were the first complete predynastic bodies to be discovered. The well-preserved bodies were excavated at the end of the nineteenth century by Wallis Budge.
Ginger The mummy
Ginger (Gebelein Man): In 1896, the first Gebelein predynastic mummy, ‘Gebelein Man,’ who was later nicknamed Ginger, was found.
The mummified man was discovered in the Gebelein area, about 40 kilometers south of Thebes (Egypt), and in 1896 acquired by the British institution.
Gebelein’s man is the oldest and most popular mummy at the British Museum in London.
His body is very well preserved, including the preservation of the red hair that earned him the nickname Ginger. Studies show that he was around 18-21 when he died.
- Body of naturally mummified adult male lying in flexed position.
- Skull – Tufts of ginger-coloured hair are present on the scalp. No obvious fractures.
- Mouth slightly open. All teeth present and appear healthy.
How did Ginger The mummy die?
X-rays show that the young man was between 18 and 21 years old when he died a violent death and the hot sand dried all the liquid from his body and mummified him.
He died after being stabbed in the back with a sharp object such as a copper or sharp flint knife of at least 12 cm. long and 2 cm. Wide.
According to new analyzes by researchers, it was found that the left shoulder blade was slightly damaged, the rib immediately below the shoulder blade was broken in such a way that it had splintered into its tissue and with such force that it had perforated the left lung and the surrounding blood vessels.
The absence of defensive wounds is believed to suggest that Ginger was the victim of a surprise attack; the way the broken bones remain in the surrounding soft tissue indicates that the injury occurred while he was alive.
The team of researchers conducts studies to determine his last meal and even see what he ate in his last three months through an analysis of the hair and nails.
(Wien, Springer, 1996), pp. 33-38.Strudwick N 2006
Until late in the Predynastic period, the ancient Egyptians buried their dead by placing the bodies in shallow graves, in direct contact with the sand, perhaps covered by a mound of earth.
The dryness of the sand frequently acted as a preservative, and there are a number of burials from these early periods in which the body is still in excellent condition. Two of these, a man and a woman, are in the British Museum.
The male burial is the better known, thanks to his remarkable state of preservation and, in particular, the remains of his ginger-coloured hair. He was a full-grown adult, but his exact age has not been determined.
The body was buried in a contracted, almost fetal, position, which continued to be the principal position for burials until well into the Old Kingdom, when bodies were usually buried fully extended.
There may be religious reasons for the change, but it is also very likely that the development of mummification practices showed that it was easier to mummify the body in an extended position.
Although this man was not placed in a coffin, the earliest such items were arranged to take a contracted body.
Mummification is now known to have been practiced during the later stages of the prehistoric period, and parts of bodies showing the use of resin and linen wrappings are known from Hierakonpolis at about 3500 BC.