Bleached Mummy
Biographical Information
Name(s) Anonymous
Age 20-25
Sex female
Status High social status
Height Unknown
Culture Theban
Date(s) 18th Dynasty
Site Theban Necropolis archaeological area in Egypt
Current Location
Location Museo de Antropología Médica, Forense, Paleopatología y Criminalística in Madrid, Spain
Catalog # None

A 3,500- year-old mummy head was found in Egypt that shows evidence that ancient Egyptians may have use cosmetics in order to lighten or bleach their skin (1).

Researchers believe that the woman lived in between the period where Thutmose II and Thutmose III reigned (1).


The researchers think the origin is the Theban Necropolis archaeological area in Egypt, in 2007 (1). They believe that the mummy head possible could be dated back to the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, based on the mummification technique completed (1). Its recorded history begins sometime between 1898-1930, when it appeared in the Cairo Museum. The head was then sold to the Spanish collector and banker Ignacio Bauer and finally donated to the Real Sociedad de Arqueología, Antropologíay Prehistoria in Madrid.


Belonging to a young woman of a bout 20 to 25 years,  the analysis of her face skin has revealed tiny nodules underneath the cheek and back of the neck. According to the researchers, this condition possibly points to a skin disorder known as exogenous ochronosis, and the dermatosis is often caused by protracted use of skin bleaching cosmetics.


The cosmetics used by the ancient Egyptians also included lead base component, which may also result in skin inflammation along with skin diseases (1).


An anthropologist at Nation Kapodistrian University of Athens, and one of the researchers of the study, mentioned how using cosmetics also pertained to religious and magical spheres, not just aesthetics. Many of these cosmetic items contained lead as the primary ingredient, which often led to skin diseases and inflammations.

The mummified head is in the collection of the Museo de Antropología Médica, Forense, Paleopatología y Criminalística in Madrid.


  1. Lorenzi, R. (2016, June 10). Mummy Shows Ancient Egyptians Bleached

Their Skin. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

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