Archaeologists working on a site on the outskirts of the Egyptian city of Alexandria have discovered mummies with golden tongues nestled in their jawbones.
The archaeologists, headed by Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, had found 16 burial chambers dating from the Greek and Roman eras at the Taposiris Magna Temple in western Alexandria. While the mummies were preserved in a poor state and were dated to a period more than 2,000 years ago, two of these buried people had golden tongues in their jaws.
The researchers believe that this was meant to help the deceased speak in the afterlife.
There were “remnants of gilded cartonnage” — a case made of tightly fitting layers of linen or papyrus glued together — the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Egypt said, as well “amulets of gold foil in the form of a tongue that were placed in the mouth of the mummy.”
The archaeologists also discovered other golden artifacts that included a funeral mask with golden flakes arranged in the shape of a wreath and some gilded decorations depicting Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead.
Gold was a significant element used in Egypt during the time of the pharaohs. For instance, it was used to decorate the funereal masks of rulers like King Tutankhamen. Further, it had also been molded to encase the fingers and toes of the dead.
“For the Egyptians, gold was a material that had qualities of everlastingness,” Jennifer Houser Wegner, a curator of Egyptian artifacts at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia said. “It never tarnished. It always shone brilliantly.”
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