Ancient Lives: The Secret of the 1,300-year Old Christian Tattooed Mummy Discovered in Sudan

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An extremely rare Christian tattoo has been discovered on a 1,300-year old mummy in the Nile Valley.

A unique Christian tattoo has been discovered on a mummy unearthed along the Nile in Sudan nine years ago. The tattoo has only been identified as a monogram containing the letters Μιχαήλ, meaning Michael, last year, after it was CT scanned and photographed with infra-red reflectography.

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This is the CT scan of the Christian tattooed mummy found in a cemetery along the Nile in Sudan in 2005. Photo: NHM

The mummified woman is believed to have lived about 1,300 years ago and was between 20 and 35 years old when she died. According to the British archeologists and anthropologists, she was Christian and lived in a community in what is now known as Sudan.

Michael was the patron saint of Christian medieval Sudan, so his name is invoked frequently in inscriptions. The monogram looks almost like an upside angel. It has also been found on stele and in graffiti on churches from that time. This is however the first tattoo of the symbol ever discovered.

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IR photography of the unique Michael tattoo discovered on the inner thigh of a Christian mummy unearthed in a cemetery along the banks of the Nile in Sudan

This mummy as well as other mummified remains are featured at the upcoming exhibition ‘Ancient Lives: New Discoveries’ at the British Museum in London. Culture is always welcome!

Learn more here.

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