Maidstone "Bird Mummy"
Human Mummy
Biographical Information
Name(s) Bird Mummy or Hawk Mummy
Age 2,100 yo
Sex m
Status high
Height 24 centimetres long
Culture Egyptian
Date(s) c.300BC
Current Location
Location Maidstone Museum in Kent UK
Catalog #
Maidstone Museum in Kent held in its collection a small mummy since 1925, decorated with the image of a hawk in gold leaf it was cataloged: "EA 493 – Mummified Hawk, Ptolemaic Period." This was a misidentification, a new scan found the occupant of the sarcophagus was a stillborn boy child. The error was first discovered in 2016.

The child was mummified with his arms across his chest, and wrapped in mummy linen. It was in a decorative plaster coffin, with details such as tiny sandals painted on the feet of the cartonnage.


New scans from a Canadian-led team reveal that the fetus was just 24 centimetres long and stillborn at 23 to 28 weeks of gestation.

Micro-CT scan showing deformation of skull and spine

The child had severe anencephaly, a disorder where the brain and skull fail to develop; and spina bifida, where the bones of the spine don't form properly around the spinal cord. Anencephaly and spina bifida are thought to be linked to a lack of folic acid in the mother's diet and most recently has been associated with the Zika virus.

Scans reveal normally formed finger and toe bones, but so serious is the skull deformation, that the brain would have been practically nonexistent. He also had a cleft palate and a cleft lip.

There are only about nine known mummified Egyptian fetuses, including the Youngest Mummy, and only two that suffered from anencephaly, making the discovery extremely rare.


To mummify an infant was very rare. In ancient Egypt, fetuses tended to be buried in pots in various ways. There are only about eight known to have been mummified.

External Links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.