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5 years ago

Ancient Civilization - Uan Muhuggiag (The black Egyptian mummy)

Ancient Mysteries
Uan Muhuggiag is an archaeological site in Libya. It was occupied by pastoralists during the early- to mid-Holocene. The site is where the Tashwinat Mummy was found, which was dated to around 5600 BP. It now resides in the Assaraya Alhamra Museum in Tripoli. Uan Muhuggiag is a rock shelter in southwestern Libya in what is now the Sahara Desert. It is located on the bank of the Wadi Teshuinat, sitting on a plateau in the Tadrart Acacus at almost 3000 feet above sea level. The site is about 1500 miles west of the Nile Valley. Uan Muhuggiag was first excavated in 1950. The Tashwinat Mummy was discovered by University of Rome Professor Fabrizio Mori in 1958. More recently, in 1982, the site was also excavated by Barbara Barich. Uan Muhuggiag appears to have been inhabited from at least the 6th millennium BC to about 2700 BC, although not necessarily continuously. The stratigraphic sequence comprises seven distinct occupation levels. Layer 1 is the very top layer, followed by layer 1a. The middle level is labeled from 2a to 2d, with 2d being the oldest. Finally, below that, there is also a layer 3, which is furthe subdivided into section A, at the top, and section B, at the bottom. Layer 1 has been dated as beginning around 3800 BP, and consists of loose aeolian sand at the very top, slightly cemented sand and dung below that, and hearths at the bottom. Further down, layer 2 has evidence of humified organic sand and lenses of fresh plant remains. These two layers represent the period of human occupation of the shelter. Layer 3 has even stronger humidified sand, as well as gypsum concretions. The stratigraphic sequence suggests that the shelter was inhabited during a much wetter period than today. The Tashwinat Mummy was found on the eastern side of a 160 by 80 cm. excavation, under the lowest layer of coals, where the sandstone floor showed a deliberate round excavation of about 25 cm. in diameter and 3 cm. deep. The mummy lay just beneath a layer of vegetable fibers. The most noteworthy find at Uan Muhuggiag is the well-preserved mummy of a young boy of approximately 2 1/2 years old. The child was in a fetal position, then embalmed, then placed in a sack made of antelope skin, which was insulated by a layer of leaves. The boy's organs were removed, as evidenced by incisions in his stomach and thorax, and an organic preservative was inserted to stop his body from decomposing. An ostrich eggshell necklace was also found around his neck. Radiocarbon dating determined the age of the mummy to be approximately 5600 years old, which makes it about 1000 years older than the earliest previously recorded mummy in ancient Egypt. In 1958-1959, an archaeological expedition led by Antonio Ascenzi conducted anthropological, radiological, histological and chemical analyses on the Uan Muhuggiag mummy. The specimen was determined to be that of a 30-month old child of uncertain sex, who possessed Negroid features. A long incision on the specimen's abdominal wall also indicated that the body had been initially mummified by evisceration and later underwent natural desiccation. One other individual, an adult, was found at Uan Muhuggiag, buried in a crouched position. However, the body showed no evidence of evisceration or any other method of preservation. The body was estimated to date from about 7500 BP. Among other significant finds at Uan Muhuggiag are elaborate rock paintings, mostly attributed to the later occupation period of around 5000 BP. There are more than 100 rock paintings on the shelter's walls and ceiling. The most notable of these are the Round Head paintings. They were named as such because the heads depicted were quite large, out of proportion to the rest of the body, and also very round with a distinct lack of features. Additionally, there was a painting depicting these figures inside a boat, which may have had a ritual or religious significance. One particular figure inside the boat was upside-down, whom Mori had interpreted as being dead. Some rock art depicted cattle with herders and running hunters. There was also a painting of two oxen that was found on a rock which had detached from the wall above. The stratigraphic layer confirmed the painting to date from about 4700 BP. This provided conclusive evidence that the inhabitants of Uan Muhuggiag at that time were pastoralists.

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