Archaeologists have discovered the first known example of a pregnant mummy. The ancient remains are said date to the first century B.C. and were discovered in Thebes back in 1826—but experts had long assumed the specimen was male, thanks to inscription on the sarcophagus naming an Egyptian priest.
“Our first surprise was that it has no penis, but instead it has breasts and long hair, and then we found out that it’s a pregnant woman,” archaeologist Marzena Ozarek-Szilke told the Associated Press. “When we saw the little foot and then the little hand [of the fetus], we were really shocked.”
The discovery was published this week in the Journal of Archaeological Science by the Warsaw Mummy Project team at the Polish Academy of Sciences, which since 2015 has been conducting noninvasive laboratory tests such as CT scans and X-rays to help better understand mummies (or, in this case, mummies-to-be).
The world’s only embalmed pregnant body ever found is believed to have been between 20 and 30 years old, and 26 and 30 weeks pregnant. It has been on display at the National Museum in Warsaw since 1917—but had never been as thoroughly examined as it was recently.