Published: 14:00, 17 November 2016
| Updated: 14:01, 17 November 2016
Scans of mummified remains have revealed what was thought for centuries to be a 2,300-year-old hawk is in fact a baby.
It is the latest in a series of remarkable discoveries made by medical experts analysing ancient Egyptian artefacts in Maidstone Museum's extensive collection.
The remains, which are preserved in a tiny sarcophagus. are now believed to belong to a miscarried 20-week gestation foetus.
If the findings are correct the mummy would be one of the youngest found anywhere in the world and would mean the St Faith's Street collection would be home to not just the only mummified human in the county but the only two in the region.
Last week we reported how the CT scan of Ta-Kush — who was believed to be a 14-year-old girl — revealed astonishing new information about her life.
The research is being carried out at KIMS Hospital, off Bearsted Road, and is part of a Heritage Lottery funded £78,700 redevelopment of the museum's Ancient Civilizations gallery.
Samantha Harris, collections manager at the museum, said: “Among the other items we analysed was a piece that had initially been classified as ‘A mummified hawk with linen and cartonnage, Ptolemaic period (323 BC – 30BC)'. Following the scans at KIMS Hospital, the remains were in fact revealed to be the mummy of a baby. Initial reviews identified the baby to be a miscarried c.20-week gestation foetus which, if found to be the case, will be one of the youngest human mummies recorded anywhere in the world.
VIDEO: Scans of Ta-Kush at KIMS Hospital. Credit: Maidstone Museum.
“Thanks to the CT scanning, we are able to learn much more about the collections in a non-invasive way, without damaging the integrity or condition of the artefacts. For example, without access to the technology, identifying and learning about the baby mummy would’ve been impossible without causing irreversible damage from unwrapping.”
An ancient Egyptian Ram’s Horn plugged with mummy linen was also scanned and was found to be filled with contemporary items from the Victorian era or later, including a necklace and buttons. The reason for this remains a mystery, and further research will be undertaken as to why the horn was used in this way.
The Ancient Egyptian and Greek World collection will be unveiled in summer 2017.