TF Daily Feed: Archaeologists Uncover the World’s Oldest Mummy in Portugal

Adding to our features of historical artifacts and unearthing, a mummy believed to be 8000 years old has been discovered in Portugal’s Sado Valley. The findings could suggest the oldest mummification process took place in Europe. The Chinchorro mummies were unearthed in Chile and date back 7000 years, while Egyptian mummies date back 5000 years.

Archaeologist Manuel Farinha dos Santos and his crew photographed ancient remains in Portugal’s Sado Valley during excavations in the 1960s. These skeletal remains were recently examined using cutting-edge technology. A team of archaeologists from Uppsala University and Linnaeus University in Sweden, as well as the University of Lisbon in Portugal, conducted this new investigation. At least one of the bodies was mummified, according to the researchers.

As per findings of a study published in the European Journal of Archaeology by Cambridge University, some bodies may have been mummified before being buried. This would make their transportation easier before the burial. Evidence discovered suggests more than one of the remains may have been mummified implying that it was a prevalent technique at the time. However, because soft tissue is no longer preserved and the remains are entirely skeletonized, the Sado Valley bodies are no longer mummified. 

Image Sourced From Peyroteo-Stjerna et al/European Journal of Archaeology.

According to publications of the director of the Biomolecular Archaeology at Uppsala University in Sweden, Rita Peyroteo Stjerna, “The newly rediscovered photographs of burials at Arapouco and Poças de S. Bento and their analysis, informed by archaeothanatology and experimental taphonomy, allows us to add information on a series of burials of the Portuguese Mesolithic. These burials generally conform to the pattern characteristic of the mortuary practices known for these hunter-gatherer communities, but aspects of the treatment of the body, including its transformation and curation before burial, are new elements.”

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