A research team at the University of Manchester's Center for Biomedical Egyptology, managed to unveil further secrets about the life of mummy Takabuti kept at the Ulster Museum, Belfast.
Previous research used CT scans to look into the cause of the mummy’s death, and showed that it was “stabbed with an axe, and not with a knife”, as it was previously thought.
The new research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, provides new insights on the life, death, and embalming of Takabuti, based on a proteomic and genomic analysis of 50 milligrams of bone and thigh muscle. The new findings show that the famous mummy “had European genes that originated from the mother.”
The team also examined the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which revealed a group of maternal genes known as “H4a1 haplogroup” that currently dominates in Europe.
The new discovery supports a theory saying that the family of Takabuti’s mother may have originated outside Egypt, as the name of the mother “Tasenirit” engraved on the mummy’s sarcophagus, is not known elsewhere in Egyptian sources. However, her father’s name, Nespare, and his role as a priest of Amun as indicated from Takabuti’s sarcophagus, suggest that she had direct Egyptian ancestry.
The analyzed proteins also indicate protracted leg muscle activity in the hours before death, which suggests that Takabuti tried to escape the attacker who hit her with the axe.
The researchers note that “the mummy lived in Thebes during the turbulent period when the Kushite rulers of Egypt were conducting military campaigns against the Assyrians, and she may have been caught up in one of these conflicts.”
The team also looked into the secrets of Takabuti’s mummification. CT scan results from former studies showed that the embalming reflected changes in practice during the Third Intermediate and Late Periods, where greater attempts were made to make a mummy look more “realistic”, such as the unusual retention of the complete head of natural hair rather than shaving the head or adding hair extensions.
The new study uncovered other secrets with the help of 20–30 mg needle biopsy sample of the packing material inserted during mummification.
The researchers found that the materials used for embalming contained cedar wood shavings. Using radiocarbon dating, they determined that “the mummification took place in the Third Intermediate Period and in keeping with the previously dated hair and the stylistic dating of the coffin that placed it in the 25th Dynasty.”