Why are there mummies with straight hair?

It has already been proved that ancient Egyptians were blacks and are the direct and indirect ancestors of Africans and Africans of the Americas. But there are these mummies with straight and blonde to red hair, which do not stick to the truth affirmed by the UNESCO since 1974. We are in a position to formulate a hypothesis that we think admissible, about the reason why these African mummies have straight hair. Hypothesis that you will see, is very interesting…

On the left is priest Yuya with his thick lips and his prognathism (jaw pushed forward) that is only found among Blacks. On the right is priestess Tuya, who is very prognathous. Genetic studies have shown that this couple was strictly related to the Blacks in sub-Saharan Africa. Why do they have straight and blonde hair?

Among the mummies mentioned are those of the parents of Queen Tiyi, wife of Imanahotep Hekauset (Amenhotep III) and mother of Akhenaten. The faces of the priests Yuya and Tuya are undoubtedly African, like those depicted on the sculptures of their daughter and their son Pharaoh Ay. Ay was perhaps the father of Queen Nefertiti.

Ramessou Maryimana child. Source: Antériorité des civilisations nègres, Cheikh Anta Diop, plank n° 55

The other famous mummy is that of Ramessou Maryimana (Ramses II) for whom we have determined without a shadow of a doubt in a previous article that it was a Black. The obvious capillary texture of the great pharaoh on his sculptures, contrasts so enormously with the discoveries on this black mummy presented as his own. In our previous analysis of the matter, we thought that these mummies were probably those of Blacks with straight hair as they are in Somalia or India.

The problem is that these mummies are numerous. We may add those of the great Yahmesu (Ahmosis) and Menkheperure Djehuty-Mesu (Tuthmosis IV). This great number contrasts with the eye-witness testimony of the Greek scholar Herodotus, nicknamed the father of history, who described the Egyptians as people with “black skin and frizzy hair.” We now turn to another explanation, and begin with the discussion of the mummification process.

How was mummification done?

The body was first washed with palm wine and water, and then the internal organs (brain, intestines, stomach, lungs, liver) were removed. Only the heart was left. Then the whole body was covered for 40 days with a kind of salt called natron. When the natron had dried the body and the mummification itself was finished, it was embellished using perfumed oils, frankincense and myrrh, and the dried body was filled with sawdust and sand so that it could regain volume. Finally, it was wrapped in cotton bands. The main ingredient of mummification and the one on which our interest will focus is natron.

What is natron and what are its properties?

Natron is an alkaline substance. That is to say, it has a pH above 7. The Lake Natron in Tanzania, saturated with natron, mummifies the carcasses of animals that die there, and has a pH of about 11.5. Aside its drying properties, natron has effect on the hair, as the alkaline substances are supposed to have.

Alkaline substances: foundation of hair relaxing

hair relaxing is done with an alkaline substance

Natron as the caustic soda with its pH between 12 and 14, are alkaline substances. It is by accident with caustic soda that modern straightening is born. The Cameroonian and Central African cosmetologist Naturi Ebene tells us, “When slave traders pulled slaves to their land and transported them to the Americas, the crossing lasted many months, often more than six months. The shaved hair of the slaves had time to grow again, and those whose hair had not been cut, also grew more. We can very easily imagine how hair can look like if it has not been washed, combed or treated for more than six months.

And this, in the dramatic conditions in which the slaves were transported. On their arrival in the Americas, they suffered in addition to their condition of slaves, from the mockery about their dirty and unkempt hair. At that time one of the punishments which the masters inflicted on recalcitrant slaves was to plunge their heads in a washing of caustic water and soda. Aside from the burns, the other slaves observed that this preparation smoothed the hair by straightening it. The beginnings of modern hair relaxing were born “[2].

It is therefore from this alkaline product like the natron that started the modern straightening. Caustic soda being a corrosive product, straightening with it, is painful and dangerous for the scalp. We remember the famous scene of the hair straightening of Malcolm X in his biographical film directed by Spike Lee. Apart from caustic soda, lime was still used until the 1990s in Africa. Hence the expression in some countries “liming hair”. The lime pH is 12.

The chemical reaction that leads to straightening: the alkaline substance is the key (Source: Fundamental properties of Afro-American hair, Jutta Maria Quadflieg, page 18. Technical University of Rhineland-Westphalia in Aachen)

All modern hair relaxers for frizzy hair, although less corrosive, also have a high pH. The higher the pH, the more powerful the relaxing. Relaxing is a chemical reaction of the hair with an alkaline substance. This reaction is a matter of minutes only. The natron as for him, remember, covered the mummy for 40 days !!! We can therefore state that mummification with natron straightened the hair.

Henna and Hair Coloring

Henna is a cosmetic dye used in Africa since the Pharaonic period and was used on skin and hair. There are many images of Africans with reddish colored hair that confirm it. Ramesu Maryimana having died at the age of 90, the color of his hair can only result from the use of dye. The French scholar Maspero in his 1886 minutes on the opening of Ramesu’s mummy, says that the clear hair of our prestigious ancestor is the result of products used after his death. While the eyebrows and a few hairs of his beard and mustache are indeed white, his hands and feet are red with Henna. He also describes fleshy lips and a strong, powerful jaw, that is, prognathous, which is only found in Blacks.

On the right Ramesu Maryimana’s mummy: he is prognathic, therefore Black, as represented during his lifetime on the left. The long nose gives him the look of a Black with Fulani or Somali features. His straight and red hair is certainly the result of the use of natron and henna.

Henna was probably used on the hair in the beautification phase of the mummy. Therefore henna which gives the hair reddish or blonde color is the explanation, unless natron itself does not take part in it as well, because sodium bicarbonate, another alkaline substance, would be effective in brightening up the hair.

On the left, great pharaoh Yahmesu in his lifetime with locks and on the right dead, with visibly treated smooth hair

In conclusion, we think that the straight hair of the mummies stem from an involuntary straightening by natron during mummification, and the color is mainly due to henna. Therefore this is the explanation of how Ramesu Maryimana and Yahmesu, described with frizzy hair during their lifetime, have their mummies with straight hair.

That said, it would be necessary to know if there were several techniques of mummification because there are also mummies with fizzy hair. This is the limit to our hypothesis, which we nevertheless think is logical. This should be confirmed by laboratory tests.

Prince Maiherpri, probable son of Menkheperure Djehuty-Mesu (Tuthmosis IV) and therefore uncle of pharaoh Akhenaten


By: Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • Vancouver Museum
  • Fundamental properties of Afro-American hair, Jutta Maria Quadflieg
  • Minutes on the opening of Ramses II and Ramses III’s mummies (Procès-verbal de l’ouverture des momies de Ramsès II et Ramsès III) by Gaston Maspero
  • Smithonian Encyclopedia
  • Cerritos College
  • [1] Antériorité des civilisations nègres, Cheikh Anta Diop, page 35
  • [2] Le retour au naturel, Naturi Ebène, pages 33 & 34
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