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A recent study suggests that baboons, who were mummified in ancient Egypt, were probably brought in from faraway places and kept in confinement. This research finally solves the mystery of how these animals ended up in a location so far from their original home.
Archaeologists have been puzzled by the discovery of mummified baboons in Egypt, as these primates are not typically found in the area and there is no indication that they were living there in the past.
It has been theorized that the preserved baboons were possibly given as offerings by the ancient people. These primates were also seen as symbols of Thoth, the god of knowledge and intelligence, along with other animal deities in ancient Egyptian culture.
Recent research published in the journal eLife suggests that baboons were brought from faraway areas and held captive in ancient Egypt prior to being mummified.
Recent discoveries have also indicated that the primates had their sharp canine teeth extracted.
Researchers also uncovered the level of interaction between ancient Egyptians and unfamiliar animals, although the significance of these primates to the people of ancient Egypt remains uncertain.
The baboons’ place of origin was determined by studying the genetic material in their mitochondria, which are the cell organelles responsible for producing energy.
A mummy examined in a recent study was discovered in 1905 at the “Valley of the Monkeys”. It is currently housed at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon.
The baboon mummy specimen has been determined by archaeologists to have originated from the Late Period of ancient Egypt, specifically between 800 and 500 BCE.
Scientists analyzed the genetic makeup of individuals from various regions in Africa, which have been extensively researched for their diverse genetic backgrounds.
According to Gisela Kopp, co-author of the study, we have samples from nearly all regions where baboons currently reside for comparison.
Although historical texts refer to “Punt” as the origin of baboons, an ancient region from which Egypt imported luxury goods for centuries, the specific location of this region remains a mystery.
Dr. Kopp stated that for a long time, experts in Egyptology have been perplexed by Punt. Some researchers believe that it was a destination in the early networks of global maritime trade and therefore served as the origin of economic globalization.
The latest research on genetics has identified the mummy specimen’s origins to be in the northeast African country of Eritrea, formerly known as Adulis. This area was a significant trading center for valuable items and various animals in ancient times.
According to the most recent discoveries, experts claim that Punt and Adulis refer to a single location but were used interchangeably at different times.
Dr. Kopp stated that the story truly made sense once our biological discoveries were placed within the framework of historical research.