PASCAL GOETGHELUCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PASCAL GOETGHELUCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Islamic archaeology. Skull of a dead body, over 1000 years old, 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; some (as here) are only skeletons. The body was wrapped in the cloth seen here. The bodies have been exhumed as part of research that is using genetic analysis to study the origins of the Fatimids, including family relationships, and to explain why some of them had blond hair.
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