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: