Startling DIscovery: Tattoo found on inner thigh of 1,300-yr-old Sudanese mummy

Updated: 25 March, 2014 10:13 IST | Agencies |

A tattoo of a man’s name has been discovered by scientists on the inner thigh of a 1,300-year-old mummy

London: A tattoo of a man’s name has been discovered by scientists on the inner thigh of a 1,300-year-old mummy.
Egyptologists at the British Museum made the startling discovery while examining the ancient mummified body of a Sudanese woman, thought to have died around 700 AD.

Ancient: The skeletal remains of the woman who died in 700 AD. (Right) The tattoo on her inner thigh which spells out M-I-X-A-H-A

The symbol, tattooed on the skin of the inner thigh of her right leg, spells out the ancient Greek characters M-I-X-A-H-A, which translates as Michael. But it’s not for a secret lover however, as the tattoo is thought to be a protective biblical symbol representing the Archangel Michael.

It appears in the New Testament Book of Revelations as a protector and leader of God’s armies against the forces of Satan.

He’s also the patron saint of medieval Sudan. Dr Daniel Antoine said, “You can see her tattoo really clearly using infra red reflectography. The tattoo on her right inner thigh represents a monogram that spells Michael in ancient Greek. She is the first evidence of a tattoo from this period. This is a very rare find.”

Experts still don’t know what length of skirts were fashionable in ancient Sudan, so it’s hard to say whether her ink would have been visible. But thousands of people will see it every day when the mummy goes on public display for the first time in May.

The mummy

The woman was about  5ft 2in tall and was found in 2005 on an archaeological dig in a cemetery in Sudan. Dr Antoine said, “We can only speculate why she had a tattoo. Perhaps for protection.”

First Published: 24 March, 2014 01:13 IST

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