Scientists found something unexpected on the body of a 1,300-year-old mummy — a tattoo bearing the name of Michael the archangel.
The mummy is thought to be a Sudanese woman between the ages of 20 and 35 who lived in a Christian community near the Nile and died around A.D. 700.
Her body was so well-preserved that researchers were able to discern a tattoo on the inner thigh of her right leg, the Telegraph reported.
With the help of infrared technology, scientists were able to very clearly see that the tattoo spelled out the word “Mixaha,” or Michael, in ancient Greek. They determined that the symbol, a monogram on her leg, represented the archangel Michael, a figure in both the Old and New Testaments.
This marked the first time that the symbol was found in tattoo form, though it has been seen on mosaics and artifacts.
“She is the first evidence of a tattoo from this period,” British Museum curator Daniel Antoine said. “This is a very rare find.”
While museum curators believe that the symbol was placed on the woman’s body for spiritual and religious protection, no one can know for sure the true meaning of the tattoo.
Maureen Tilley, a theology professor at Fordham University in New York City, told Fox News that the tattoo might have had something to do with childbirth.
“Christian women who were pregnant often placed amulets with divine or angelic names on bands on their abdomens to insure a safe delivery of their child,” she said. “Placing the name on the inner thigh, as with this mummy, may have had some meaning for the hopes of childbirth or protection against sexual violation, as in, ‘This body is claimed and protected.'”
The mummy will be on display at the British Museum along with seven others in an exhibit titled “Ancient Lives: New Discoveries,” starting in May, with the tattoo visible to museum visitors.
Archeologists discovered the mummy during a 2005 dig in Sudan.
(H/T: Fox News)
Featured image via Trustees of the British Museum