Why do these 2000-year-old mummies in Egypt have golden tongues?

Jennifer Geer

Egyptian scene from an afterlife ceremony.Photo byrysp/Depositphotos.com

Archaeologists in Egypt recently discovered several mummies with gold chips shaped like a human tongue placed in their mouths.

According to Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the mummies were found in the city of Quesna, which is about 35 miles north of Cairo.

In addition to the mummies with golden tongues, gold-shaped scarabs and lotus flowers were found buried nearby.

It's not the first time Egyptian mummies were found with gold tongues. LiveScience reports giving mummies gold tongues during the embalming process was popular during the Greco-Roman period, which happened around 332 B.C. to 395 A.D.

Why did the mummies have gold tongues?

Experts don't believe that the Egyptians had gold tongues in life. They think the tongues were cut out during the mummification process and replaced with a tongue-shaped gold chip.

According to LiveScience, the Egyptians also sometimes gave mummies golden eyes in addition to tongues. The gold eyes and tongues were meant to help the deceased to be able to speak, see, and taste in the afterlife.

Gold was sacred to Egyptians

Egyptians highly valued gold and used it for coffins, funerary masks, accessories, furniture, and in trade with other nations. Gold was linked to the Egyptian Sun God Ra, and Egyptians may have believed it to be "the flesh of the gods" because it didn't become discolored.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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