Archaeologists working in Egypt have unearthed several mummies with "golden tongues" dating between 300BC and 640AD.
Discovered at the Quweisna necropolis in the Nile delta about 40 miles north of Cairo, the golden-tongued mummies are believed to be the result of a religious practice.
The Egyptian archaeological mission of the Supreme Council for Archeology, working in the Qwaisna Archaeological Compound in Menoufia Governorate, found an extension to the original compound that includes tombs and mummies dating back to several different time periods.
Dr Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Archeology, said the mission also found a number of gold chips in the form of human tongues in the mouth of some of the discovered mummies.
Other mummies were glazed with gold on the bone directly underneath the linen wraps.
The researchers said the use of gold in mummification rituals appears to be have been a late development and one undertaken by rich people and priests.
The gold tongues were meant to enable the dead to speak to Osiris, the Egyptian deity of the afterlife.
Dr Ayman Ashmawi, head of the Egyptian archeology sector at the Supreme Council of Archeology, said that the excavations inside the extension revealed that it had been used over three different time periods.
Investigators found the burial levels were different from each other, and there were various directions of burials and ways of placing the mummies.
Professor Qutb Fawzi, head of the Central Administration for the Sea Face, said that the mission also succeeded in uncovering a number of gold chips in the form of cockroaches and lotus flower, as well as a number of funeral ornaments, stone mortars and pottery used in the embossment process.
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