The startling discovery that two mummies displayed in an English museum are not full brothers raises some interesting questions.
An amazing discovery that two mummies in a museum in England, which we reported on recently, are not full brothers raises some particularly fascinating questions about Egyptian society. The mummies are believed to belong to Egyptian high priests Nakht-Ankh and Khnum-Nakht and were discovered in 1907 in the Tomb of the Two Brothers in Deir Rifeh, and a new genetic analysis shows that they are half brothers with different fathers.
This remarkable discovery sheds some light on these famous mummies that have resided in a Manchester museum for more than 100 years. For example, experts are now left to determine how exactly these unusual circumstances came about, as the brothers are about 20 years apart, and yet they both held a high place in Egyptian society.
It suggests that their may be a lot more to their mother than meets the eye, and she may have had high social standing in a society that placed higher value on social class than gender when it came to rights. It shows the unique place women held in ancient Egyptian society as compared to other societies around the world then and even today, as women essentially had the same rights as men. They could own properties, adopt children themselves, bring legal action, choose whom they would marry, and even be granted a divorce.
That contrasts greatly to many other societies, which treated women as second class citizens who were essentially owned by men and needed their approval to do just about anything. So the very existence of these Two Brothers is a result of this sort of society.
In most ancient societies, and even today, a woman who had children to two different men would certainly not enjoy a high social status. But based on this genetic analysis, and the high status her sons enjoyed, that was not the case in ancient Egypt.