Archeologists have discovered several ancient mummies in Egypt with gold chips in their mouths where the tongues should be. The new finding was made at a site named Quweisna (sometimes spelled Quesna) necropolis in the central Nile Delta.
The Qwaisana Archaeological Compound, an extension of the archeological compound, was originally discovered by archeologists in 1989. Their theory was that it had been occupied during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, which stretched from about 300 BCE to 640 CE.
Officials at the Egyptian ministry revealed the discoveries in a Facebook post. Mustafa Waziri, head of the country’s Supreme Council for Archaeology, said the mummies were in a poor state of preservation, meaning their secrets were disintegrating with them.
Mummies with golden tongues puzzling
Golden tongued mummies have been unearthed before. Yet, they are still a mystery.
At the Qwaisana Archaeological Compound, three different levels show differing burial rituals. In addition, numerous other bodies were interred across three different time periods in ancient Egypt, which likely explained the difference in the tombs.
Besides the mummies with the golden tongues, some were found that had their bones glazed in thin sheets of gold under the linen wrap. Others had simply been buried near gold-shaped scarabs and small gold lotus flowers.
Evidently, the flowers are said to have symbolized creation and rebirth in ancient Egypt, while the scarabs could probably ensure elements in a mummy were consumed to be then reborn.
Mythological tokens to the afterlife
In 2021, excavators uncovered a skull with a tongue-shaped ornament framed in its yawning mouth at a 2,000-year-old temple, Taposiris Magna, in western Alexandria, Egypt.
Three more mummies that were a man, woman, and child dating back more than 2,500 years were also found with golden tongues at the end of 2021.
The mouth of the deceased was opened in preparation for the afterlife during embalming, during which the tongue was removed and replaced with the gold object.
This was a common practice, and it is believed that the gold tongue was for the dead to ask Osiris to show mercy on their souls, and, therefore, no music or sound was made.
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities suspected that the gold had been placed there long ago by embalmers to ensure the dead could navigate the afterlife.
In contrast, archeological researchers believe that the tongues, flowers, and scarabs meant the soul’s transformation after it successfully negotiated a stay in the afterlife with the lord and judge Osiris.
Gold ornaments meant eternity
Life in Ancient Egypt is clearly still a mystery and more research needs to be done related to rituals like this one. Otherwise, without more evidence, all we can do is speculate.
Gold, popular for making ornaments for funerary rites in Ancient Egypt, was believed to be the flesh of the gods, specifically the skin of the Sun god, Ra.
Ra himself was not only considered the creator of everything but was also the leader of all the ancient Egyptian gods.
He was also closely connected to Osiris. They represented the sunlit portion of the day whilst Osiris represented the hours of darkness.
For that reason, the golden tongue could have represented a line to the light even in the cold darkness of the underworld ruled by Osiris.
Osiris, god of the afterlife
Osiris was the god of the afterlife in Ancient Egypt and lived among the dead in the underworld known as Hades in Greek mythology, sometimes referred to as ‘the Silent Land.’
He is believed to have been killed and hacked into pieces that were spread across Egypt. Isis, who was his wife and sister, gathered all the pieces and resurrected him, however.
Osiris himself was called ‘the Lord of Silence,’ as he enforced speechlessness on those held there. This explains why silence was required during funerary arrangements, according to Egyptian mythology.