This website requires JavaScript.


History & Heritage


Egypt: this mummy was pregnant and suffered from cancer

This 2,000-year-old mummy from ancient Egypt is revealing more and more surprising secrets. After discovering that she was pregnant, Polish scientists revealed that the deceased may also have been suffering from nasopharyngeal cancer.

Since 2021, this mummy has fascinated scientists. Identified as a woman in her 20s or 30s, the mummy has been on display in its sarcophagus at the National Museum in Warsaw for over a century. The Warsaw Mummy Project, which aims to examine mummies through technological innovations, was responsible for its rediscovery.

A unique and anonymous mummy

To everyone’s surprise, the examinations have indeed revealed a mass that would correspond to a fetus of 26 to 30 weeks, making this mummy a unique discovery until today. However, the reasons for the mummy’s death and even its identity remain unknown for the time being, hence further research by scientists.



The results of the analyses suggest that the young woman may have suffered from nasopharyngeal cancer. Using a 3D printout of her skull, the specialists observed a seven-millimeter round lesion in the bone behind her left eye socket. This lesion, as well as the detection of unusual cavities, appear to be symptoms of cancer of the nasopharynx, the area between the nose and the throat. If a diagnosis is still impossible to establish for the moment, the specialists continue their research to determine the disease of the mummy and thus to know if it is the cause of its death.

Cancer is common in mummies

Indeed, the detection of cancerous cells is not rare in the remains of ancient Egypt. The archives also mention several identified cancers of the nasopharynx on other mummies. Determining whether or not the “mystery woman”, as she is known, had this cancer could be a key to contemporary medical research. Thus, finding the molecular signature of the mummy’s cancer would make it possible to compare it with those of cancers of our time.

See also

Onions found in the eye sockets of a pharaonic mummy


Published on 13 July 2022