| Yasmine (Maronite Mummy) |
|Date(s)||Died 1283, Found 1990|
|Site||‘Asi-al Hadath, Qadisha Valley, Northern Lebanon|
|Location||Lebanese National Museum, Beirut, Lebanon|
Yasmine was the first mummy to be found out of eight mummies in a grotto in Northern Lebanon. She died as an infant, estimated to have been only four months old at her time of death, 700 years ago. Found with her were four more infants, three grown women, and a fetus, as well as scattered remains of other individuals, men included. These mummies are referred to as the Maronite Mummies, as the Maronites were a Christian sect that entombed their dead in cvaves in the region.
Yasmine was found wrapped in gauze. Underneath the gauze, she was wearing three dresses: one blue, one beige, and a more elaborate dark-beige dress that was embroidered with silk. She was found wearing a headband, also made of silk, with a headdress over top. Jewelry was found on her mummified body as well. Between her toes there were pieces of hair, believed to be from her mother, that is if the same traditions that exists today existed back then. Yasmine, along with the other mummies, were naturally preserved due to the conditions in the section of the grotto: quite dry with very little humidity.
Yasmine and the Maronite Mummies were the first mummified individuals to be found in Lebanon. Along with the human remains were many artifacts including combs, poles, arrows, and artwork. It is because of these artifacts that historians believe these people were Maronites. The artifacts also reveal information such as their burial date and their cause of death (thought to be due to a siege from Egyptian invaders known as the Mamluks). In present day, there is a Lebanese tradition that parents carry out when they experience the death of a child. They weep at the corpses feet while pulling at their own hair leaving strands of hair between the toes of the deceased child. In Yasmine's case, 700 years ago, it is thought that the same tradition was carried out.
According to Guita G. Hourani: The shrouded body belonged to a four-month-old infant. Her discoverers named her Yasmine. Clothed and fully interred only 40 cm below ground, she was lying on her back alone in the grave, her head resting on a smooth stone....Beneath her shroud, she wore three dresses - one blue, with a beige dress over it and a more elaborate dark beige dress embroidered with silk threads over both. Her head was covered with a headdress, under which she wore a headband made of silk. She was adorned with one earring and a necklace garnished with hand-blown glass pearls and two coin pieces dated to the era of the Sultan Mamluk Baybars. Found nearby were a darker lock of human hair, bay leaves, almonds, walnuts, garlic and onion peels (Gersl 1993: 38-40). Little Yasmine was introduced to the world as the first known mummy of her people. The baby had been buried with her mother. She was laid to rest in the same style the Lebanese bury mothers with infants today – with the baby placed at her mother's left shoulder.
Hourani, G. (2000). THE MUMMIES OF THE HOLY VALLEY OF QANNOBINE IN LEBANON. Chungara: Revista De Antropología Chilena, 32(1), 103-109. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27802121