Takabuti was a married woman who reached an age of between twenty and thirty years. She lived in the Egyptian city of Thebes at the end of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt. Her mummified body and mummy case are in the Ulster Museum, Belfast.[1]

The mummy and coffin of Takabuti on display in Ulster Museum
Burial placeThebes
  • Nespare (father)
  • Tasenirit (mother)

The coffin was opened and the mummy unrolled on 27 January 1835 in Belfast Natural History Society’s museum at College Square North. Edward Hincks, a leading Egyptologist from Ireland, was present and deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs which revealed that she was a noblewoman and the mistress of a great house. Her mother’s name was Tasenirit and her father was Nespare, a priest of Amun.[2][3][4] She was buried in a cemetery west of Thebes. It was initially suggested that Takabuti was murdered due to knife wounds found on her body.[5] During this investigation, Takabuti's mtDNA was tested and determined to be mitochondrial haplogroup H4a1, described as "a predominantly European haplogroup",[6] and indicative of "European heritage".[7] In the archaeological record H4a1 has been reported in Cardial Neolithic remains from Spain and Portugal dating from c. 5300 BC,[8] in 6th to 14th century CE Guanche remains from the Canary Islands,[9] in remains from Bell Beaker and Unetice contexts (2500–1575 BCE) in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, and in an individual from early Bronze Age Bulgaria. The H4a1 variant possessed by Takabuti is relatively rare in modern populations, with a modern distribution including ~ 2% of a southern Iberian population, ~ 1% in a Lebanese population and ~ 1.5% of multiple Canary Island populations.[10]

Analysis of Takabuti's well-preserved hair found that it was naturally auburn in colour.[11]

In 2020, Researcher Angela Stienne accused the investigators of wanting to prove that ancient Egyptians were white, an accusation denied by chief curator Hannah Crowdy.[12]

After the Napoleonic Wars there was a brisk trade in Egyptian mummies. Takabuti was purchased in 1834 by Thomas Greg of Ballymenoch House, Holywood, Co. Down. At that time, the unwrapping of a mummy was of considerable scientific interest (as well as curiosity) and later studies revealed beetles later identified as Necrobia mumiarum Hope, 1834, Dermestes maculatus DeGeer, 1774 (as D. vulpinus) and Dermestes frischi Kugelann, 1792 (as D. pollinctus Hope, 1834). The painted coffin was itself of considerable interest and the wrappings of fine linen were given much attention in the town that was the commercial centre of the Irish linen industry. One hundred and seventy years later Takabuti remains a popular attraction for visitors.

In April of 2021, a new book on Takabuti was published, revealing that she had not been killed by a knife, but instead by an axe, probably while she was attempting to escape from her assailant (speculated to either be an Assyrian soldier or one of Takabuti's own people). The wound was found in her upper left shoulder, and was more than likely instantaneously fatal. It was also found that Takabuti's heart had not been removed (as previously thought), and she possessed two very rare mutations: an extra tooth (which appears in 0.02 percent of the population) and an extra vertebra (which occurs in 2 per cent of the population).[13][14]

DNA researchEdit

The University of Manchester’s KNH Centre performed an analysis of mitochondrial and exomic genome on Takabuti. The findings show that Takabuti has the H4a1 mitochondrial DNA haplogroup (a haplogroup defines a group of genetic variants held by people who share a common ancestor. Mitochondrial defines the ancestry on the maternal side).[15][16] [17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lynne and Ronald Wallace Hogg, Ronald Wallace Hogg, FreeToDo Travel Guides - UK and Ireland, FreeToDo Travel Guides, ISBN 0-9553600-0-5, p.345
  2. ^ "Takabuti, The Belfast Mummy". Ancient Egypt magazine. 2021.
  3. ^ "The Egyptian mummy Takabuti". BBC.
  4. ^ "BBC - A History of the World - Object : The Egyptian mummy Takabuti and her case". www.bbc.co.uk.
  5. ^ "Shocking truth behind Takabuti's death revealed". The University of Manchester. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  6. ^ Drosou, Konstantina (2020). "The first reported case of the rare mitochondrial haplotype H4a1 in ancient Egypt". Scientific Reports. 10. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-74114-9.
  7. ^ "Shocking truth behind Takabuti's death revealed". University of Manchester. 27 January 2020. Professor Rosalie David, an Egyptologist from The University of Manchester said: "This study adds to our understanding of not only Takabuti, but also wider historical context of the times in which she lived: the surprising and important discovery of her European heritage throws some fascinating light on a significant turning-point in Egypt's history.
  8. ^ Olalde, Iñigo; et al. (2 September 2015). "A Common Genetic Origin for Early Farmers from Mediterranean Cardial and Central European LBK Cultures". PLOS Genetics. PLOS. 32 (12): 3132–3142. doi:10.1093/molbev/msv181. PMC 4652622. PMID 26337550.
  9. ^ Fregel, Rosa (2019). "Mitogenomes illuminate the origin and migration patterns of the indigenous people of the Canary Islands". PLOS ONE. 14 (3): e0209125. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209125. PMC 6426200. PMID 30893316.
  10. ^ Drosou, Konstantina (2020). "The first reported case of the rare mitochondrial haplotype H4a1 in ancient Egypt". Scientific Reports. 10. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-74114-9.
  11. ^ "Shocking truth behind Takabuti's death revealed". University of Manchester. 27 January 2020.
  12. ^ Atkinson, Rebecca (31 January 2020). "New research into Egyptian mummies leads to calls for major ethical review". Museums Association. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  13. ^ "New book explains how famous Mummy was murdered". KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  14. ^ "A mummy murder has been solved!". Ary News. 10 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Haplotyping Takabuti". KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  16. ^ Drosou, Konstantina; Collin, Thomas C.; Freeman, Peter J.; Loynes, Robert; Freemont, Tony (12 October 2020). "The first reported case of the rare mitochondrial haplotype H4a1 in ancient Egypt". Scientific Reports. 10 (1): 17037. Bibcode:2020NatSR..1017037D. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-74114-9. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 7550590. PMID 33046824.
  17. ^ "National Museums NI". www.nmni.com. Retrieved 13 January 2021.

External linksEdit