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The Macquarie/York/Oxford research has overturned the ‘natural preservation’ theory, adhered to since 1705, that prehistoric bodies were naturally desiccated.

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Presentation on theme: "The Macquarie/York/Oxford research has overturned the ‘natural preservation’ theory, adhered to since 1705, that prehistoric bodies were naturally desiccated."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Macquarie/York/Oxford research has overturned the ‘natural preservation’ theory, adhered to since 1705, that prehistoric bodies were naturally desiccated by burial in the hot, dry desert sand without any human intervention. For the first time, we provide scientific evidence that the prehistoric Egyptians were experimenting with preservation techniques round about 4000 BC, some 1500 years before artificial mummification is deemed to have begun.

2 Biochemical analysis has identified the components of embalming substances on 6000 year-old funerary textiles from Late Neolithic Egypt. The substances were complex, processed ‘recipes’, that consist of a plant oil or animal fat ‘base’, with smaller amounts of a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum/sugar and a natural petroleum source. The same natural products, in similar proportions, were used by the ancient embalmers in pharaonic mummification when it was at its zenith in the New Kingdom, some 2500 to 3000 years later.

3 A.J. Spencer, ‘Early Egypt’ (1993) Brit. Museum Press. Badari and Mostagedda excavated in 1920s and 1930s Clusters of small cemeteries Sites are now destroyed Artefacts had been dispersed to museums around the world Museums are now the only available resource for study of the civilisation Hierakonpolis currently under excavation 600 years after Late Neolithic period at Badari and Mostagedda

4 Mostagedda, c BC Late Neolithic burials Mostagedda c BC G. Brunton, Mostagedda (London 1937) Pl. VI Petrie Museum, University College London Ron Oldfield

5 Bolton Museum, UK. Microscopical analysis of funerary wrappings with ‘resins’ from Badari and Mostagedda

6 Tomb No. 1215, Late Neolithic Period, Mostagedda Epi-darkfield (HD) illumination permits extremely high contrast and excellent relief to reveal the individual ‘resin’- impregnated fibres. © Ron Oldfield and Jana Jones

7 Tomb No. 1215, Late Neolithic Period, Mostagedda Detail of funerary textile showing ‘resins’, fragments of bone and reed matting. © Ron Oldfield and Jana Jones


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