“Pregnant mummy” not pregnant after all

The pregnancy of the 1st century B.C. mummy in the collection of the University of Warsaw turns out to have been a false alarm. The (premature) pregnancy announcement was made in an April 2021 article by some members of the Warsaw Mummy Project who based their conclusions on their analysis of new high resolution X-rays and CT scans. The results were questioned at the time by other scientists, including the WMP co-founder Kamila Braulińska and the radiologist who CT scanned the mummy, Dr. Łukasz Kownacki.

Now another team from the Warsaw Mummy Project has published a paper that decidedly contradicts the pregnancy interpretation. They contend that what looked like a head, arms and legs of third term fetus are actually bundles of mummification material, and they have the receipts in full-color and 3D.

“Our article contains a number of spectacular images and links to films depicting the interior of an ancient mummy, including those made with the use of holographic techniques, which are the latest trend in medicine” – told PAP the main author of the publication – bioarchaeologist, co-founder of the WMP – Kamila Braulińska from the University of Warsaw .

The researchers found that there is no fetus in the pelvis at all – as suggested by the authors of the 2021 report – but four bundles.

“They were placed there by ancient embalmerists. In the bundles there is probably at least one mummified organ of the deceased. It is a well-known practice in ancient Egypt” – emphasized Braulińska. The remaining ones may contain body fragments or other remnants of the mummification process.

The authors of the new publication think the first team misinterpreted three of the bundles as fetus parts because they did not consult an expert in radiology to interpret the images. Perhaps in part because of this lack of specific expertise, they were not able to extract the richest, most detailed models from the imaging data, even though both teams used the same data and the same software.

“In this way, we showed how much the analysis of three-dimensional effects and their interpretation depend on the skills of the software user, who can achieve excellent visualization effects also without being a radiologist” – Dr. Kownacki told PAP.

For the needs of the latest study, the possibilities of radiological analyzes available at the Imaging Diagnostics Department of the European Health Center Otwock were used, including unique medical holographic software for the so-called Mixed Reality, as well as radiological server solutions.