The Maronite Mummies

In 1990, a team of cave specialists excavated a 700 year old mummy in the Qadisha Valley of Lebanon. It was of a 4 month old infant. In the next two years four more infants, three adult females, a male skull and a foetus were also found.
The above photo is not of the first mummy found, but the most fragile. She was named “Hadata”. The first mummy was named “Yasmine”, buried 40cm down, fully clothed and wrapped in gauze. She wore three layers of clothes- a plain blue dress, with a beige over-dress and a dark brown tunic embroidered with silk. She also had a full headdress, with a silk headband an earring and a necklace of hand blown glass beads and Mamluk coins dated to 1283. Due to the textiles, embroidered with Syriac religious symbols, as well as the coins and the area, it is believed that they were Maronites, followers of the Maronite Catholic Church. They had been part of the Crusader Kingdom of Tripoli, which the Mamluk leader Baybars then attacked.

The artifacts found with the mummies are textiles, made from heavy cotton (embroidered with silk), ceramics (some with inscriptions), combs, leather belts, household utensils, twenty manuscripts as well as man made water basins and grain grinders carved into the Grotto.

The embroidery is of peacocks facing the Tree of Life. The dress above was done in cross or straight stitch. The colours used are indigo blue, red, maroon, brown and black. The colours of yellow and green are noticeably absent, but yellow was the colour used by Jews and green was used by Muslims. The mummies and the artifacts can be seen at the National Beirut Museum (see the Online Museum page).
Bibliography
Mummy Tombs– Maronite Mummies at the Mummy Tombs.
Wikipedia– Maronite mummies.
700 Year Old Maronite by By Guita G. Hourani.
Chungara– The Mummies of the Holy Valley Qannobine in Lebanon.
Mummies in Hadeth El-Joubbeh (Shir Al-Assi)– by Helen Khal.

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