Bleached Mummy
The remains of the bleached mummy head
Biographical Information
Name(s) Anonymous
Age 20-25
Sex Woman
Status High social status
Height Unknown
Culture Theban Necropolis
Date(s) 18th Dynasty
Site Theban Necropolis archaeological area in Egypt
Current Location
Location Museo de Antropología Médica, Forense, Paleopatología y Criminalística in Madrid, Spain
Catalog # None


A 3,500- year-old mummy head was found in Egypt that shows evidence that ancient Egyptians use cosmetics in order to whiten or bleach their skin (1).

The head belongs to an anonymous woman aged 20-25, and contains small nodules on the cheeks and neck that are potential symptoms of a skin disorder called exogenous ochronosis (1).

Researchers of the mummy believe that the woman lived in between the period where Thutmose II and Thutmose III reigned (1).


The researchers of the mummy followed the mummified remains all the way back to the Theban Necropolis archaeological area in Egypt, in 2007 (1). They believe that the mummy head possible could be dated back to the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, based on the mummification technique completed (1).


The researchers completed a various number of examinations on the mummy head in order to positively diagnosis the skin disorder, exogenous ochronosis (1).


"Such dermatosis is caused by the extensive use of skin bleaching cosmetics," said Moissidou, an anthropologist at Nation Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece (1). Primary results demonstrated chronic skin inflammation, and all the while, electron microscopy presented many similarities between the mummy skin and tissue affected by exogenous ochronosis in today's society (1).

"We know the ancient Egyptians regarded the use of cosmetics both for aesthetic purposes as well as magical and religious ones. Cosmetic pigments were indeed used on a daily basis," Moissidou said (1).

However, the cosmetics used by the ancient Egyptians also included lead base component, which may also result in skin inflammation along with skin diseases (1).

Additional InfoEdit

Past evidence also proposes that individuals with lighter skin tones may be on a higher social level than those with darker skin (1). Angel Gonzalez, a collaborator at the School of Legal Medicine in Madrid, suggests that it may have been a symbol of higher social status. The lighter skin may represent that they did not work on labour-intensive jobs out in the sun. The researchers confidently say that the woman was most likely someone of social importance in the Egyptian society at the time (1).


  1. Lorenzi, R. (2016, June 10). Mummy Shows Ancient Egyptians Bleached

Their Skin. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

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