1,300-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy Had Christian Tattoo of Archangel Michael, Scientists Say
British scientists have recently discovered a unique tattoo of the Archangel Michael on a 1,300-year-old female mummy from Egypt.
The British Museum announced its discovery earlier this week, saying that the female mummy was from 700 A.D. and discovered in 2005 on the banks of the Nile, in what is now Sudan. The female, suspected to be aged 20 to 35 at the time of her death, was wrapped in linen and woolen cloth at the time of her burial.
After conducting advanced Computed Tomography (CT) scans, researchers discovered a tattoo on the mummy's upper right inner thigh with the letters "M-I-X-A-H-A" spelled out, meaning "Michael" in Ancient Greek. It is suspected that the women lived in one of the many Christian communities that dotted the Nile, and perhaps had the tattoo as a form of protection, either from sexual attacks or to protect a pregnancy.
As The Telegraph reports, the Archangel Michael, referenced in both the Old and New Testaments, has previously been represented in churches and on stone tablets, but never as a tattoo on a human. Daniel Antoine, the curator of physical anthropology at the British Museum, told The Telegraph that the tattoo is a "very rare find," adding that "we can only speculate why she had a tattoo. Perhaps for protection."
Maureen Tilley, professor of theology at Fordham University in New York, followed through on the argument that the tattoo was perhaps used for protection, telling Fox News that "there was a sizable Christian population in Egypt in the 700s, perhaps close to a majority of the population."
"Placing the name on the inner thigh, as with this mummy, may have had some meaning for the hopes of childbirth or protection against sexual violation, as in 'This body is claimed and protected.' Michael is an obvious identity for a tattoo, as this is the most powerful of angels," Tilley added.
The female mummy now joins seven other mummies for an exhibit at the British Museum called "Ancient Lives: New Discoveries" that opens in May. John Taylor, head curator of the museum's Ancient Egypt and Sudan department, told The Telegraph that the purpose of the new exhibit is to reveal the humanity of the mummies, including common health problems like cardiovascular disease and tooth decay. "We want to promote the idea these are not objects but real human beings. We want to capture the humanity of these people."