The remains of a man and woman who were buried with sheets of gold foil for their tongues have been found outside Cairo, Egypt. The bodies, which were found side by side but in separate graves, were buried in limestone sarcophagi dating back 2500 years.
The man’s remains are well preserved and sealed in his tomb, containing various artifacts such as jars in which his previously removed organs were stored, a scarab and tomb figurines made of china. But the woman’s remains are not in good condition and there are indications that her tomb was opened by tomb robbers.
Gold tongue plates are in good condition and are commonly found on ancient Egyptian mummies. They were placed on the tongues of the dead during burial so that the soul could speak to Osiris in the other world. Osiris is said to rule the underworld and judge the souls of the dead. It is believed that the dead could persuade Osiris with their golden tongues to have mercy on their souls.
Archaeologists aren’t sure who the man and woman were, but their tombs were built adjacent to each other. The man’s skull is still well preserved, with his golden tongue clearly sticking out of his mouth.
Since he was buried thousands of years ago, his tomb has been untouched and all his funerary treasures have been left inside the tomb. Archaeologists found 402 Ushabti figurines made of china, a tin-glazed ceramic, as well as a number of small amulets and green beads along with the remains of the man.
Another mummy discovered in February was also buried with a tongue made of gold. Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Egyptian site of Taposiris Magna have uncovered 16 tombs in rock-cut tombs, one of which contained a mummy with a gold plate instead of a tongue.
Dating back about 2,000 years, burial shafts were popular in ancient Greek and Roman times, keeping the remains inside a mountain or natural rock formation.
There were numerous mummies inside the tombs, and although the remains have since deteriorated, the stone funerary masks were still intact. It allowed the team to see what each person once looked like.
The excavation was led by the University of Santo Domingo, who has been working at the site for nearly a decade. The golden-tongued skeleton was found well-preserved as much of its skull and structure are still intact.
Archaeologists dug it out of the rock tomb and found the golden object still shimmering inside the skeleton’s mouth. They think the tongue was removed by mummies, but replaced by a golden tongue during a burial.