Sample from Mummy Wheat- Courtesy from the research by Gabriel Moshenska
CAIRO – 11 September 2017: Many of Egyptian antiquities were still undiscovered as about 30 percent of its total antiquities were found; the remaining 70 percent is still buried under the sand, the famous Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass announced in the recent days.
‘’The newly discovered cemetery in Luxor is one of the most important discoveries in the modern era,’’ recounted Hawass. Hawass explained that the discovered tomb was extremely rich with antiquities as its owner was a jewellery maker, and almost half of its contents were in a good condition.
For several years, Egyptologists usually found wheat in the Egyptian tombs. These wheat were called mummy wheat that has been surrounded by many theories since it was discovered.
The pervasive myth on the ability of mummy wheat found in Egyptian tombs to germinate after millennia was debunked with an experiment conducted by the director of the Royal Botanic Garden in 1897.
The myth was widely believed during the 19th century in Europe following Napoleon’s discovery of Ancient Egyptian traditions.
The European press was gripped by reports that the grains of mummy wheat from tombs dating over 3,000 years old could be regenerated thanks to the conditions in which they had been stored. Writer and Antiquarian Martin Farquhar Tupper sent to the Times a letter announcing his success in planting mummy wheat in pots in his living room that grew successfully. He sent, alongside with the letter, a report and samples of the grain used in his experiment to prominent figures in science, agriculture and politics.
Yet, the British Association for the Advancement of Science was skeptical of his theory and commissioned a team to conduct an experiment to prove Tupper’s. The results were produced in 1842, in which none of the seeds were germinated.
One of the members of Association, John Stevens Henslow, found out that the seeds Tupper used were a modern breed as opposed to Egyptian wheat. Several experiments were done to prove the same results, including the Royal Botanic Garden’s experiment.
Despite the excellent seed storage of tombs with only 16 percent humidity, the variation of the temperature of the tomb located in deep within rock is deemed disastrous for the grains’ long-term fertility.