Secrets of the Takabuchi mummy: how a woman with an extra vertebra and an extra tooth died

Secrets of the Takabuchi mummy: how a woman with an extra vertebra and an extra tooth died
Secrets of the Takabuchi mummy: how a woman with an extra vertebra and an extra tooth died

One of the most famous exhibits at the Ulster Museum in Belfast is the Takabuti mummy. It is known that the woman who bore this name lived in Egypt about 2600 years ago, during the XXV dynasty.

Father Takabuti served as a priest in the temple of Amon-Ra, which was part of the Karnak complex in Thebes.

Takabuchi was a married woman with a height of just over one and a half meters and red hair.

She passed away between the ages of 20 and 30. The body was mummified and buried near the Hatshepsut temple.

In 1834, the Irishman Thomas Greg purchased the Takabuchi mummy and took it to Belfast.

"In recent years, the mummy has undergone X-rays, computed tomography, hair analysis and radiocarbon dating. Recent tests include DNA analysis and further CT interpretations that provide us with new and much more detailed information," said Greer Ramsey of National museums in Northern Ireland.

Research, in particular, showed that Takabuchi had an extra vertebra. This deviation occurs in 2% of people. In addition, the woman had a 33rd tooth. This is even more rare: the anomaly occurs in only 0.02% of the population.

DNA analysis, meanwhile, revealed a rare genetic trace pointing to the European or Caucasian origin of the priest's daughter. According to scientists, Takabuchi had a greater genetic similarity with the Europeans than with the Egyptians.


Takabuti had a high social status and was the mistress of a large house in Thebes.

Photo by University of Manchester / Ulster Museum.

But most of all the specialists were interested in what caused the death of the young woman.

Using the latest tools, scientists have determined that Takabuchi died from a knife wound to her upper back near her left shoulder.

"It probably caused a quick death," said study co-author Dr. Robert Loynes of the University of Manchester.

In addition, only now researchers have discovered an intact and perfectly preserved heart of a young woman.

This organ was of great importance in the belief system of the ancient Egyptians. It was believed that at the trial of Osiris, the heart (in fact, the conscience) of the deceased was removed and placed on the thicket of scales, and on the other bowl the goddess Maat had to put the feather of truth (ostrich feather). If the heart was heavier, it meant that the deceased was leading an unrighteous life. Then his heart was given to be devoured by the monster Amat, and the sinner could not find eternal life and bliss.

In addition, material was found in the body cavity of Takabuchi, which was used to close the stab wound.

It is also reported that sodium salt (a preservative), sweet-smelling impurities, resins, oils and linen dressings were used in the mummification process.

The woman's hair was curled and carefully styled. Hair must have been a very important part of Takabuchi's personality, since she rejected the typical shaving of her head for her time, the study authors note.

It remains a mystery who killed the young woman and why. On this score, experts have not yet put forward any versions.