A mummy with a golden tongue

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 9 Feb 2021

A mummy with a golden tongue was found at the Taposiris Magna Temple in Alexandria this week


Archaeologists working in Alexandria have been busy over recent months excavating the Taposiris Magna Temple with a view to revealing more of its secrets.

A Dominican-Egyptian archaeological mission working in Alexandria over the last three months at the necropolis of the Taposiris Magna Temple has now found a collection of 16 catacombs containing mummies covered with gold fragments and another with a golden tongue.

Head of the mission Kathleen Martinez said that among the most important mummies were two covered with traces of gold and unique cartonnage wrappings representing the mummified god Osiris from the end of the Ptolemaic era.

One of the mummies was wearing the ancient Egyptian atef crown with gilded horns and a cobra on the forehead. It also had a falcon-headed usekh collar and a golden rectangular pectoral decoration hanging round the neck. On the mummy’s left, there was an image of the goddess Imentet drawn in fine black lines. A coating of golden plaster covered this painted decoration.


The mission also uncovered a beautifully painted funerary mask of an unknown woman featuring her facial features, along with eight sheets of gold, two of them tongue-shaped and six others around a diadem.

A collection of eight marble busts of men and women buried at the site was also found dating from the Graeco-Roman period. All of them are well-preserved, and it is still possible to make out individual hairstyles and headdresses. The faces have a formal look, with no smiles on their faces.  

Martinez said that the embalmers had possibly placed the golden tongue on the mummy in order to ensure that the deceased would be able to speak in the afterlife.

Over the last 10 years, the Dominican-Egyptian mission has unearthed a collection of coins with the portrait and name of the famous ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra, several royal statues in granite, and the foundation plaques of the Temple proving that it was built by Ptolemy IV.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 February , 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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