Archaeologists have discovered several ancient mummies in Egypt sporting gold chips where their tongues should be.
The auspicious discovery was made at the Quweisna (sometimes spelled Quesna) necropolis in the central Nile Delta. Discovered in 1989, the site is thought to have been occupied during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, which stretched from about 300 BCE to 640 CE.
The golden-tongued mummies were unearthed in a newly discovered extension of the archaeological compound, where numerous other bodies were interred across three different time periods in ancient Egypt.
Some of the unearthed skeletons have their bones glazed in gold, while others have simply been buried near gold-shaped scarabs and lotus flowers.
The golden tongues are a bit of a puzzle, even though they’ve been found before.
At the start of 2021, researchers digging at a 2,000-year-old site in Egypt uncovered a skull with a gleaming tongue-shaped ornament framed in its yawning mouth.
Then, at the end of 2021, a man, a woman, and a child mummy were again found with golden tongues, dating back more than 2,500 years.
At the time the discoveries were made, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities suspected the gold had been placed there long ago by embalmers to ensure the dead could navigate the afterlife.
Today, a person with a ‘silver tongue’ is a most persuasive speaker, but in ancient Egypt, experts think a golden tongue was necessary to get on the good side of the lord and judge of the underworld, Osiris.
Like Hades, Osiris also lived among the dead, and he enforced a strict rule of speechlessness. In fact, the underworld in ancient Egypt was sometimes known as ‘the Silent Land‘, and Osiris himself was called ‘the Lord of Silence‘.
Osiris apparently loathed noise, which is why during funerary arrangements in ancient Egypt, it is thought that silence was enforced. Only when the mouth of a mummy was opened in preparation for the afterlife was any music played or sound made.
Perhaps the introduction of a golden tongue allowed mummies to speak to Osiris without making any noise. But if that’s the case, then why are only some mummies buried with golden tongues?
Gold was a popular material in ancient Egypt to make ornaments for funerary rites. The glimmering element was considered to be the flesh of the gods, specifically the skin of the Sun God, Ra, and was associated with the concept of eternity.
Ra was the leader of all the ancient Egyptian gods, the creator of everything, and he was closely united with Osiris. Ra represented the sunlit portion of the day, while Osiris represented the hours of darkness.
Maybe a golden tongue represents a line to the light, even in the cold darkness of the netherworld. Without more evidence, all we can do is speculate.
Officials at the Egyptian ministry say the mummies found at Quweisna are in bad condition, and their secrets are disintegrating along with them.
Their golden tongues are clearly trying to communicate something, but all that we hear now is silence.