Islamic archaeology

Islamic archaeology

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Credit: PASCAL GOETGHELUCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Islamic archaeology. Researchers drilling into a femur (thigh bone) to take uncontaminated samples from a dead body that is over 1000 years old. The body is from the Al-Fustat necropolis in Cairo, Egypt, where members of the Fatimid dynasty were buried. The Fatimids, a Shiite Muslim dynasty that ruled a large North African empire from 909 to 1171, founded a new capital city of Al-Qahira (Cairo) in 972. Some of the bodies in Cairo were brought from the previous capital in Tunisia. Many of the bodies are well-preserved, having mummified naturally. The research uses genetic analysis to study the origins of the Fatimids, such as family relationships, and to explain why some of them had blond hair.

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