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The hearts of the ancients were not hardened to the deaths of children and preborn, what about us?

by | Jun 3, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

A CT scan of an Egyptian artifact shows signs of human remains within, proving it is probably a real mummy.  Swansea University Egypt Centre

A CT scan of an Egyptian artifact shows signs of human remains within, proving it is probably a real mummy.
Swansea University Egypt Centre

My apologies for getting to this fascinating story so late. The story of the “fake” baby mummy speaks to us on many levels.

In a nutshell because the tiny mummy brought back from Egypt in the 19th century was inscribed with “meaningless” hieroglyphics, many experts insisted it (dubbed W1013) was a fraud.

Another reason the tiny mummy was thought not to be genuine was because the Swansea University’s Egypt Centre did not know how Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome obtained the mummy and because Swansea University would never open it. (They didn’t in order to prevent the mummy from being damaged.)

That opinion was buttressed—or at least not debunked–in 1998 when an X-ray scan of the mummy by Singleton Hospital proved inconclusive.

But speculation came to an end in early May when a CT scan was done by Swansea University’s Paola Griffiths of the Clinical Imaging College of Medicine. Writing for The Mirror, Jonathan Symcox explained that the CT scan

“showed a little red faced mummy wrapped in bandages, which looked like a small child wearing a yellow and blue striped wig.

“Academics say the hieroglyphics–which have no translation–were probably painted in 600 BC by an Egyptian who couldn’t read or write properly.

“Museum curator Mrs Graves-Brown added: ‘It is not unusual for meaningless hieroglyphs to be placed on coffins.

“’Their appearance on many others suggests they were due to the artist not being literate.’”

All well and good and fascinating on its own terms. But there is much more.

Said Egypt Centre curator Carolyn Graves-Brown, “It is sometimes claimed that because there were so many deaths of young children, as well as miscarriages, in the ancient world, that the ancients became ‘hardened’ to such tragedies.

“However, it is clear from the fact that foetuses and infants were buried with care, that such losses were not treated casually. We can imagine that the probable foetus within W1013 represents someone’s terrible loss; an occasion of great grief and public mourning.”

“Someone’s terrible loss”; losses “not treated casually”; “buried with care”; and, no, the loss of so many young children and preborns did not “harden” their hearts.

I know nothing about the 26th Dynasty (“circa 600 BC at the beginning of the Late Period of ancient Egypt”), the period at which the baby died. But it speaks well of them that they treated these children with something that appears to approach reverence.

Also note how something that “proved” the mummy was a fraud proved to be nothing of the sort. Because the hieroglyphics were “meaningless” to specialists, they assumed someone was trying to put something over on them. Not so; the artist was probably illiterate, as Graves-Brown observed, and, in fact, such writings on coffins were not uncommon.

In the modern abortion context, the scientifically illiterate are those who are unpersuaded by the ABCs of fetal development while the ethically unschooled are those who miss that ultimately (to borrow from Benjamin Franklin) we hang together or we hang separately.

When we lethally dispose of one category of people because they are powerless or fail to meet arbitrary criteria for protection, inexorably we move onto another and another and another.

Which is why if we are to protect the medically dependent elderly and the infant born with disabilities, we must return protection to unborn children

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Tags: mummy