(ORDO NEWS) — In 1906, in the necropolis of Deir el-Medina, the intact tomb of the overseer of the works of Kha and his wife Merit was discovered. This find became a landmark at that time, but even after 100 years, it continues to amaze archaeologists.
This research not only reveals the mysteries of the past, but may make our visits to museums more exciting in the future.
The burial of Kha and Merit remains the most complete non-royal ancient tomb. It reveals important information about how high-ranking officials were treated after death.
After the discovery of the tomb, archaeologists were able to resist the temptation and did not unfold the mummies or open the ancient jars.
Even after the handover of the artifacts to the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, everything remained sealed. The contents of many of the vessels are still a mystery, but now scientists have ventured to find out these secrets!
Ilaria Degano, a chemist at the University of Pisa, Italy, and her colleagues placed various artifacts, including sealed jars filled with the rotten remains of ancient food, in plastic bags for several days to collect the volatile molecules that still emanate from the artifacts.
The team then used a mass spectrometer to determine the odor components from each sample.
They found aldehydes and long chain hydrocarbons, indicative of beeswax; trimethylamine associated with dried fish; and other aldehydes common in fruits.
“Two-thirds of the objects produced definite results,” says Degano. “It was a very pleasant surprise.”
This is not the first time that aromatic compounds have revealed important information about ancient Egypt.
In 2014, researchers extracted volatile molecules from 6,300 to 5,000-year-old linen bandages used to wrap bodies in some of the earliest known Egyptian cemeteries.
The molecules confirmed the presence of embalming agents with antibacterial properties, showing that the Egyptians experimented with mummification some 1,500 years earlier than thought.
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