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 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.
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
The mummy in a display box at the museum.
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 Black 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
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. 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
"The Mystery of The Black Mummy"
The same video in German, and edited by one Youtube user to
include subtitles in Arabic.