Mummies and skeletons from the Coptic monastery complex Deir el-Bachit in Thebes-West, Egypt
Lösch, Sandra; Hower-Tilmann, Estelle; Zink, Albert
Deir el-Bachit is the largest known Coptic monastery complex in Thebes-West. It dates to the Late Antiquity period between the 6th and the beginning of the 10th century AD. So far, at least 26 individuals from the site were analysed anthropologically. 22 of them were excavated directly at the necropolis, the other 4 are special burials that were found at other locations nearby. Most individuals from the necropolis are male adults. There are two categories of human remains: “mummified and “skeletonised. The differences are probably due to social stratification. A substance similar to bitumen was found at the mummies. At that time, resin containing oils and bitumen were normally not used any more. One of the special burials was an approximately three years old child which was found enclosed within a wall. Another special burial was a juvenile or young adult female who was found in the vault of an abandoned granary. The female was most likely pregnant and fell victim to a violent crime. This is indicated by the bones of a six months old foetus and an intravital skull fracture. She was no contemporary from the time the monastery was cultivated but was later deposited in this area.