Discovery of Pregnant Egyptian Mummy Is a First, Researchers Say

An Egyptian mummy that for decades was thought to be a male priest was recently discovered to have been a pregnant woman, making it the first known case of its kind, scientists said.

Scientists in Poland made the discovery while conducting a comprehensive study, which started in 2015, of more than 40 mummies at the National Museum in Warsaw, said Wojciech Ejsmond, an archaeologist and a director of the Warsaw Mummy Project, which led the research.

The findings were published last month in The Journal of Archaeological Science. “It was absolutely unexpected,” Dr. Ejsmond said.

“Our anthropologist was double-checking the pelvis area of the mummy to establish the sex of the mummy and check everything, and she observed something weird in the pelvis area, some kind of anomaly,” he said.

Papyrus from around 1825 B.C., revealed that materials such as honey and crocodile dung were used as contraceptives.

Still, very little is known about prenatal care in ancient times, Dr. Ejsmond said.

Dr. Nagel said about 30 percent of infants died within their first year of life during ancient times. After learning of the discovery of the pregnant mummy, he said he was intrigued about what further study could reveal about Egyptian beliefs concerning the afterlife of unborn children.

Further research is needed to learn more about the health of the pregnant mummy. That could require taking microsamples of soft tissue, Dr. Ejsmond said.

“It’s a very small amount of soft tissue, so one will not see any difference on the mummy, but still we’re interrogating into the structure of the object,” he said.

Scientists hope that publishing their findings can attract attention from physicians and experts in other fields to help in the next stage of research.

“This is a good base to start a bigger project about this mummy,” Dr. Ejsmond said, “because this will require a lot of experts to make decent interdisciplinary research.”

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Sweden, Dressed in Summer

For as long as I can remember, the forests, lakes and mountains of my native Sweden have been my refuge. Half of the photos from my childhood depict me with an armful of wildflowers or a bucket brimming with — not to mention my face covered with the juices of — blueberries.

After moving abroad with my family at the age of 10 and adopting an ever more nomadic lifestyle as an adult — in the last decade I’ve worked primarily in Africa and Asia, usually without a permanent base — I have developed the happy knack of feeling at ease wherever I find myself, almost regardless of the circumstances.

WildSweden, took me along for what remains perhaps the most magical moment of my life: sitting at the edge of a lake, surrounded by a forest and the semidarkness of Swedish summer, listening to the howling of wolves just a few hundred meters away. They knew we were there, of course, but chose to remain nearby, making this auditory encounter one entirely on their terms.

photo essay about Swedish winter, I soon understood that things were far from ideal in what I had previously believed to be a largely untouched wilderness. Despite the extensive and expensive public relations campaigns run by Sweden’s forestry industry, it became very apparent that we are in real danger of losing our last old-growth forests through a process of clear-cutting and monoculture plantations. A curtain was pulled aside, as it were, and my feelings about the nature-loving country of my birth are now far more muddled.

Does it seem absurd if I claim to be as grateful for this insight as I am to have been introduced to the fascinating beauty of microscopic fungi? Well, I am. Ignorance might be bliss up to a point, but it rarely resolve existential threats.

There is a Swedish word — “hemmablind,” or home-blind — that I think is particularly relevant today, given our reduced ability to travel. We often overlook that which is close to home. We travel abroad to experience the exotic, just as we donate money to support faraway causes.

But venturing beyond our borders needn’t come at the expense of appreciating our immediate surroundings. Wherever home is, it undoubtedly offers much to appreciate and experience — as well as plenty to fight for.

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There Is a Lot of Fungus Among Us

Inside a state-of-the-art lab, tucked in an industrial neighborhood on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, employees wearing protective suits move around two clear boxes, careful not to disrupt the tubes and sensors that keep temperature and humidity constant. Inside the boxes are mushrooms.

But not just any mushrooms. They are psychedelic — “magic” — mushrooms that the start-up Numinus Wellness believes one day may be used to treat mental health conditions as varied as depression, substance abuse and anxiety.

Welcome to the ’Shroom Boom. While Numinus is using mushrooms to make mind-altering therapies, other mushroom growers are promising other benefits, like strengthening immune systems or reducing inflammation. Mushrooms are showing up in all sorts of wellness products, pushing them into the mainstream and making mushrooms a major force in the flourishing, multibillion-dollar wellness market.

legalize psilocybin, the main active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, for the treatment of certain mental health conditions in supervised settings. In March, the New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said New York State should legalize psychedelic mushrooms, a stance he raised in 2019 when he was a Democratic presidential candidate.

Regulators in the United States and Canada are taking baby steps toward allowing limited use of psychedelic mushrooms, which produce visual and auditory hallucinations over a few hours after ingestion, for the treatment of certain mental health conditions. Popular as part of the counterculture in the 1960s, magic mushrooms were deemed illegal in the United States in the 1970s.

public offering. Another psychedelic company, MindMed, has financial backing from Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank.”

New York in March. But some analysts and many of the companies themselves caution that the path for psychedelics will most likely be very different.

study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine that found use of psilocybin relieved anxiety and depression in people with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. A second, small study involving 24 participants conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers that was published in JAMA Psychiatry found that those who received psilocybin-assisted therapy showed improvement as well.

“The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” Alan Davis, adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in an announcement about the study’s results.

The Food and Drug Administration has put at least two psychedelic mushroom compounds on the fast track for approval to treat depression.

Last year, Canada began allowing a limited number of people with terminal illness to use psychedelic mushrooms. Currently, Numinus is working toward a psilocybin-assisted therapy trial for patients with substance abuse disorders.

And while regulators in the United States are taking a new look at psychedelic mushrooms, psilocybin is still a Schedule 1 drug and would need to be reclassified by regulators.

Despite those hurdles, though, Mr. Nyquvest sees the potential for a broader use of psychedelic mushrooms around wellness, beyond what he called “treating really heavy indicators” of substance abuse and depression.

“The same way you go to the dentist to take care of the teeth, we need to think about taking care of the brain and mental well being.”

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