Vatican Mummies Fake: Archeologists Find Hodgepodge Of Adult Human Bones And Iron Nail From 19th Century

Archeologists have reportedly proven that at least two of the mummies in the possession of the Vatican, are fake.

A couple of mummies that have long been a part of Vatican’s collection of antiquities have been confirmed fake by modern science. The small mummies, each about two feet long, had been assumed to contain the bodies of children or small animals. They were claimed to have been prepared in ancient Egypt about 2,000 years ago. But the ‘mummies’ have now been confirmed to contain only a few random portions of human bones that date back to the early 19th century.

There was a mix of male and female bones, as well as various body parts, including an adult tibia and fibula, foot bones and vertebrae.

Vatican researchers, who long felt something was amiss about the mummies, had them undergo 3D CT scans, X-rays, DNA tests, and infrared and ultraviolet light. Analyzing the results, the archeologists have determined that the mummies do not contain complete remains, but instead a “hodgepodge of adult human bones from the Middle Ages.” One of the mummies even contained a nail that dated back only to the 19th Century, Catholic News Service reported.

The yellowish resin that is used to paint the mummy’s cartonnage too, dates back to the 19th century. Surprisingly, the bandages used to ’embalm’ the ‘mummies’ actually date back to ancient Egypt.


Researchers are confident that these ‘fake mummies’ were probably made during the ‘mummy mania’ that engulfed Europe in the 19th century. Napoleon’s 1798 expedition to Egypt and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone had resulted in the European world taking a lot of interest in mummies, and collectors were ready to shell out a lot of dough to grab a piece of ancient history, especially if it was well preserved and had a history of royalty associated with it. This according to Alessia Amenta, curator of the Vatican Museum’s department for the antiquities of Egypt and the Near East,

“These mummies are important evidence of the phenomenon of falsification that managed to regularly fool collectors and sometimes scholars. At that time, upper-class Europeans often purchased mummies to show off to their friends, and newly founded Egyptian museums also tried to acquire them.”

The fake mummies were uncovered during the research that was conducted as part of the “Vatican Mummy Project.” The mummy project was started in 2007 to study the nine mummies and 18 body parts in the Vatican’s collection. The primary aim was to establish the authenticity of the mummies and determine exactly how old these remains were.

[Image Credit | Museum Secrets, Daily Mail, Vatican Museums]