In 2005 archaeologists involved in a dig in Sudan unearthed the extraordinarily well-preserved mummified remains of a young woman, aged 20 to 35. The body (pictured above) had been wrapped in linen and wool and was mummified by the hot, dry environment in which it had been buried. The remains have subsequently been dated to approximately 700 A.D.
Interestingly the scientists found a tattoo on the inside of the woman's right thigh. This tattoo (see photo below) is a monogram that includes Greek letters spelling out the name of the Archangel Michael. A Fordham University theologian, Maureen Tilley, has suggested that the tattoo is religiously significant and relates to childbearing. According to Dr. Tilley:
“Christian women who were pregnant often placed amulets with divine or angelic names on bands on their abdomens to insure a safe delivery of their child. Placing the name on the inner thigh, as with this mummy, may have had some meaning for the hopes of childbirth or protection against sexual violation, as in, ‘This body is claimed and protected.’”
The mummy, along with a number of others unearthed in the same dig, will be on display at the British Museum in London. If you want to read more about the mummy, see the article on The Telegraph website, and be sure to watch the brief video. It's all very interesting, and makes one wonder what future archaeologists will make of all the tattoos they will surely find on any mummified remains of today's population.