Tattooed Sudanese Woman
Human Mummy
Mummy-tattoo 2860581c
Biographical Information
Name(s) Sudanese Woman
Age 20-35 years old
Sex Female
Status low
Height 5 ft 2 inches
Culture Sudanese
Date(s) AD 700
Site Site 3-J-23, et-Tereif, Fourth Cataract, Sudan
Current Location
Location The British Museum
Catalog #
The mummy of a woman was discovered during an excavation conducted along the Banks of the Nile River in Northern Sudan. The site was considered an ancient burial ground. She was buried within the Kingdom of Makuria in Sudan during the 5th century AD.
Christian-sudan 624x624

The characteristic that sets the woman's remains apart from other mummies is a tattoo marking found on her inner thigh. The tattoo "MIXAHA", inked in Greek letters spells the word "Michael" and the symbol was previously seen only in the archeological remains of ancient church and religious sites.

The tattoo is considered as reference to the Arch Angel Michael and was a huge symbol in the early stages of the spread of Christianity. The woman is thought to have been part of a select few Sudanese people in her time and community who might have converted to the Christian faith. The unique tattoo finding is considered so rare as it is the only evidence of tattoos her period.


She had been buried wrapped in a linen and woolen cloth and her remains had mummified in the dry heat. There was no evidence found that indicated her remains were mummified intentionally and therefore it is concluded she was preserved accidental by natural forces.
Mummy-split 2860580c
It was found in a small cemetery close to the banks of Nile buried in an oblong pit about a meter deep placed on its back with the head to the west. It was simply placed in the ground in a very dry environment and dried out so quickly that it wasn't able to rot away keeping it preserved and partially mummified. This fast drying caused most of her soft tissue to be well preserved as can be seen in the case of her brain which is almost intact.


Found in 2005, the mummy was a part of a group of seven other mummies that underwent CAT scans which uncovered evidence of the tattoo. Her tattoo is almost invisible to the naked eye, but was clearly analyzed using infrared reflectography. The tattoo, on the inner thigh of her right leg represents the symbol of the Archangel Michael. The symbol has previously been found in ancient churches and on stone tablets, but never before in the form of a tattoo. The reason behind her tattoo can only be speculated upon, some suggesting it was for protection.


Her internal organs are very well-preserved.

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