Wan Muhuggiag





a mummy of a child found in Wadi Tashwinat  Acacus by Mori

The Wan Muhuggiag Mummy, on display at the Assaraya.




The Tashwinat Mummy is a small mummy of a child, discovered in a small cave in Wan Muhuggiag, in the Acacus massif (Tadrart Acacus), Fezzan, Libya, by Professor Fabrizio Mori in 1958. The mummy is currently on display at the Assaraya Alhamra Museum (gallery 4) in Tripoli. The name Muhuggiag appears in various forms, including Wan Mughjaj, Uan Mugjaj (probably a typing error of: Muhjaj), Wan Mahugag, and Uan Muhuggiag. The local pronunciation of the name gives: Muhjaij: /mouhjeej/.



The Mummy

The cave showed signs of being occupied at different periods, and its walls were painted with images of people, animals, cattle, and scratched with graffiti. This was an opportunity probably the kind professor Mori was searching for. As the cave's floor was sandy and soft to dig, the professor could not resist the rare opportunity to be the first to excavate the cave. Not long and not far from the surface he found what appeared to be a strange bundle of some sort. Upon careful investigation it turned out to be of a mummy of a child carefully wrapped in a goatskin, with its entrails replaced by wild herbs, probably to aid preservation.

The child is thought to have been 3 years old at the time of death. Using radiocarbon 14 method, the mummy was thought to be between 5,400 and 5,600 years old, which makes it much older than any of the mummies found in (neighbouring) ancient Egypt. It was believed that the makers of the mummy were cattle herders, and occupied much of North Africa, at a time when the Sahara was a savannah.



the mummy in a display glass box

The mummy in a display box at the museum.



the sign below the mummy in the museum, in Arabic

This is the info displayed beneath the mummy in the museum (see the above photo), stating the age of the child, the location of the discovery (Wadi Tashwinat), the age of the mummy, and that it was wrapped in plants. Later research showed that the mummy was placed in a foetal position, embalmed, covered with antelope skin, and wrapped with leaves. This prehistoric Libyan technique did indeed protect the body for 5,600 years.



Wan Muhuggiag Periods

The archaeological finds at the site indicate that it was occupied by humans at different times. The most recent layer contained stone tools, such as querns, and a horned cattle skull, probably as an emblem of the sun; while the oldest layer contained stone slabs, typically used during that period for proper burial (see Germa Museum for details on this).

  • 5400 years ago
  • 7850 years ago
  • 7600 years ago


Mystery of the Libyan Mummy

The video retells the story of the mummy and of Professor Savino di Lernia and his colleagues, who revisited the location over a number of years, in search of answers. Previously scientists thought the earliest evidence for mummification in Africa comes from Egypt, but after Mori's discovery researchers now believe the African science of  mummification must have its origin elsewhere in Africa - another unknown civilisation, they say. Is it one of the numerous Berber civilisations of Ancient Libya that thrived in the past 20,000 years?

The narrator and others claim the ancient people depicted in prehistoric art are "black", but our prehistoric art galleries (accessed via the above menu) show various shades used including "brown", "dark red", ochre, white, yellow and black. Scientific research perhaps already knows that colour merely adjusts itself with temperature to regulate the melanin production in the body, which acts as a sunscreen to protect the skin from the lethal ultraviolet radiation coming with the scorching heat of the sun. Therefore the use of terms such as "black" and "white" to speak of human civilisations is wholly unscientific and essentially racist.

Some colours are indeed illusionary refraction of wavelength where neither the sky nor the sea is really blue. The further north you travel the lighter the skin becomes, and vice versa of course; and hence the Berbers come in all sorts of colours simply because they are distributed across a massive area covering nearly three-quarters of Africa, from the mild Mediterranean coast to the baking-hot hearth of Africa.





the actual skull of the mummy

The Wan Mouhjeej Skull.