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Gold-Tongued Mummies Discovered in Ancient Egyptian Tombs Dating Back 2,500 Years

By: April Carson

Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has announced that archaeologists have discovered the mummified remains adorned with tongues made from gold in a historical cemetery near Quesna, which is located just 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Cairo. This discovery has provided researchers with priceless insight into the practices and rituals of the ancient Egyptians.

The Ministry reported in a statement that some of the mummies were interred with several grave goods, including necklaces, pottery pieces, and gold artifacts patterned like lotus flowers and scarabs (i.e., beetles). These items had been carefully preserved inside wooden coffins.

Interestingly, the majority of the mummies had tongues crafted from pure gold. Archaeologists believe that it was an ancient Egyptian practice to insert gold-tongued receptacles into the mouths of the dead as a sign of respect and reverence for their afterlife journey. They also theorize that these golden tongues symbolized speech in the afterlife.

During the Greco-Roman period, mummies with gold tongues were a coveted phenomenon according to Salima Ikram, a renowned professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo. As she conveyed to Live Science via email, these ancient artifacts served as both status symbols and religious offerings. Spanning from around 332 B.C., when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, to 395 A.D., when the Roman Empire permanently separated into two entities, stands the Greco-Roman period. According to ministry reports, these mummies may have existed within multiple eras of this extended era.

The most notable of these gold-tongued mummies, discovered in 1998 and now known as “KV35YL” after the tomb it was excavated from (KV35), has been determined to be a female with connections to the 21st dynasty who lived some 2,500 years ago. This mummy is believed to have been entombed with an artificial gold tongue and multiple other artifacts, including a necklace of precious stones.

Ikram, who was not involved in the new finding, noted that golden tongues were an emblematic feature of later Graeco-Roman era funerary rituals, and indicated that these distinct pieces "sometimes even [included] 'eyes'” on embalmed bodies.

Ikram proposed that gold tongues and eyes evidenced the transformation of a deceased individual into an immortal being, as ancient Egyptians believed that gods had forms made of pure gold.

The mummies discovered in this particular tomb indicate that the practice of using golden tongues as a funerary rite may have been earlier than previously thought, and in a region far from where it was previously assumed to have originated.

The discovery of the mummy with a gold tongue in an Egyptian tomb suggests that a similar transformation was believed to occur in death. This is further indicated by the presence of other items, such as a necklace of precious stones, which were likely used to represent the soul’s journey into the afterlife.

Splendid discoveries of mummies with golden tongues have also been made at other sites in Egypt such as Taposiris Magna, a Mediterranean coastal archaeological locale, and Oxyrhynchus, an excavation site situated approximately 108 miles south of Cairo. "It is wonderful to uncover more examples of these resplendent artifacts," Ikram exclaimed. "Their discovery serves to illuminate the importance of death rites in ancient Egyptian culture and the elaborate rituals that accompanied them."

Excavations and examinations of the Quesna remains are still underway, leaving unanswered questions as to just how many mummified individuals had golden tongues - and if their identities have been established. However, the gold-tongued mummies are just one of many remarkable artifacts to surface in the area over the past few centuries. From vibrant murals to intricate jewelry, ancient Egyptian tombs continue to reveal their secrets and offer glimpses into a distant era rich with culture and tradition.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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