The FBI has finally managed to solve one of its oldest cases after they successfully extracted DNA from the head of a 4,000-year old mummy. This way, a centuries-old mystery has finally been unveiled, as well as the possessor of the mummified head. This story began back in 1915 when a team of American archaeologists who were working on the Egyyptian necropolis of Deir el-Bersha. A few years later, they sent the remains to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and thus the mystery took shape.
According to the experts, the tomb were the remains were found probably belonged to an Egyptian Middle Kingdom governor called Djehutynakht and his wife. Moreover, at one point in its 4,000-years history, the tomb was robbed and ransacked, and the bodies were disturbed. Apart from this, the thieves also tried to burn down the tomb, probably to erase their marks. For over a century, experts wondered whether or not that mummified severed head belonged to the governor or his wife. It was very difficult to discover the sex of the mummy because the skull had missing cheek bones and parts of the jaw. It seems that these parts were removed as part of an ancient ritual to allow the dead person to eat, drink and breathe in the afterlife.
The mystery of the mummy’s head, finally solved
If the F.B.I.’s scientists could extract DNA from the 4,000-year-old mummy, they would add a powerful tool to their forensics arsenal and also unlock a new way of deciphering Egypt’s ancient past https://t.co/a1em2dIpBG
— NYT Science (@NYTScience) April 2, 2018
The first serious efforts to extract the mummy’s DNA was conducted back in 2009 by Dr. Fabio Nunes. He extracted a tooth in the hope to solve this riddle. However, in 2016, Dr. Odile Loreille received the crown of that tooth. The main problem with the 2009 effort was that no DNA had been successfully extracted from a 4,000-year old mummy at the time.
But Loreille is a veteran forensic expert who previously extracted DNA from a child who died on the Titanic and from a 130,000-year old cave bear. Her efforts were also successful in the case of the mummy’s head. It belonged to the governor himself, and not his wife, according to Loreille. The next step? Changing the label at the museum where the head had been exposed.
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