An ancient Egyptian mummy found with an intact brain, but no heart, has a plaque on her abdomen that may have been intended to ritually heal her, say a team of researchers who examined the female body with CT scans.
The woman probably lived around 1,700 years ago, at a time when Egypt was under Roman rule and Christianity was spreading, according to radiocarbon dating. Her name is unknown and she died between age 30 and 50. Like many Egyptians, she had terrible dental problems and had lost many of her teeth.
The use of mummification was in decline as Roman culture and Christianity took hold in the country.
The heart played a central role in ancient Egyptian religion, being weighed against the feather of ma’at (an Egyptian concept that included truth and justice) to see if one was worthy of entering the afterlife.
With evidence showing the heart was removed on at least some occasions Egyptologists are left with a question, what did the ancient Egyptians do with it? During some time periods, the hearts may have been put in canopic jars, a type of jar used to hold internal organs, though tissue analysis is needed to confirm this.
And what about the plaques?
It’s possible they were intended as mystical replacements, or provide a type of spiritual warding for her in the afterlife.