Museum finds 18-week-old mummified fetus inside tiny Egyptian coffin

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Museum Finds 18-Week-Old Mummified Fetus Inside Tiny Egyptian Coffin

The ancient Egyptians are well known to have placed a great importance on burial rites, and a recent find at The Fitzwilliam Museum further exemplifies the careful treatment of the deceased.

With the help of imaging technology, researchers were able to look inside a carved, wooden coffin measuring only about 17 inches in length.

Scans showed a human fetus, which experts estimate was 18 weeks into gestation, making it the youngest ever found.

While the cause of death could not be verified, it is believed to be miscarriage.

Julie Dawson, Head of Conservation at the museum, said in a press release, "...this extraordinary archaeological find has provided us with striking evidence of how an unborn child might be viewed in ancient Egyptian society. The care taken in the preparation of this burial clearly demonstrates the value placed on life even in the first weeks of its inception."

The coffin was buried at Giza and likely dates between 664-525 BC.

It was excavated in 1907 and has been at the Fitzwilliam Museum since.

The release notes, "For many years it was thought that the contents were the mummified remains of internal organs that were routinely removed during the embalming of bodies."

RELATED: Check out these photos of a bent Egyptian pyramid:

11 PHOTOS
Egypt's bent pyramid
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Museum finds 18-week-old mummified fetus inside tiny Egyptian coffin
(GERMANY OUT) Bent Pyramid of Pharaoh Snofru, Dahshur, Egypt (Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
EGYPT - SEPTEMBER 30: Pyramid of Sneferu, known as the Bent Pyramid (rhomboidal or double-diamond sloped pyramid), Dahshur Necropolis, Memphis (Unesco World Heritage List, 1979), Egypt. Egyptian civilisation, Old Kingdom, Dynasty IV. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Tuesday March 24, 2009 file photo, The 4,500-year-old Bent Pyramid is seen in Dahshour near Cairo, Egypt. An international heritage research group says scientists will begin analyzing radiographic muons, or cosmic particles, collected from the ancient Bent Pyramid built by the Pharaoh Snefru. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
CORRECTING NAME OF PYRAMID A picture taken on April 19, 2015 shows an aerial view of the bent pyramid of Dahshur, a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile river, just south of Cairo. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ (Photo credit should read PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Police on Camel at Bent Pyramid of Pharaoh Snofru, Dahshur, Egypt (Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
FILE - This file Aug. 19, 2011 photo shows tourists as they leave the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, about 25 miles south of Cairo, Egypt. An international heritage research group says scientists will begin analyzing radiographic muons, or cosmic particles, collected from the ancient Bent Pyramid built by the Pharaoh Snefru. (AP Photo/Coralie Carlson, File)
Sneferu's Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Al Jizah, Egypt (Photo by: Insights/UIG via Getty Images)
EGYPT - SEPTEMBER 30: Pyramid of Sneferu, known as the Bent Pyramid (rhomboidal or double-diamond sloped pyramid), Dahshur Necropolis, Memphis (Unesco World Heritage List, 1979), Egypt. Egyptian civilisation, Old Kingdom, Dynasty IV. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
Sneferu's Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Al Jizah, Egypt. (Photo by: Insights/UIG via Getty Images)
the ancient Dahshur Pyramid is silhouetted in Dahshur, Egypt, Monday, March 16, 2009. Travellers to Egypt will soon be able to explore the inner chambers of the 4,500-year-old "bent" pyramid, known for its oddly shaped profile, while the inner chambers of the Red pyramid, pictured, also built by 4th dynasty founder Pharaoh Sneferu, are already accessible to visitors.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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