Mummies Around the World @ Mummy Tombs

Khoi Mummy

I wish to thank Eric Goodwin of South Africa for providing additional information about this discovery


Where the mummy was found

The first and (so far) only mummy ever discovered in South Africa was found in a cave in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area located in the Kouga mountains of the Eastern Cape Province last year. The mummy appears to be related to the Khoi, the indigenous people of the area.

When it was made

The mummy was made naturally and is estimated to be 2,000 years old, though no scientific testing has yet been done. Well-preserved plant bulbs found with the body indicate that it may have been buried in late September, though testing will confirm this.

How it was made

This was a natural mummy buried in a hole at the back of the small cave (or rock shelter). 

The body was wrapped with the "boophone" leaf, a plant known for its medicinal (and healing) qualities. Dr. Johan Binneman who discovered the mummy said that boophone "has some preservative and insecticide quality as well, which kept the bacteria and flesh-eating organisms away. The body...simply dried up." The body was then placed in a large basket woven from plant material, leaves, and bulbs. Finally, the basket was placed in the burial hole which was covered with a large stone.

What's special about them

1. This is the only human mummy found in South Africa to date. 

2. Officials have commented on its "remarkable state of preservation." (Johannesburg Mail and Guardian, 7/23/99)

Where to see them

After testing and analysis, the mummy was supposed to have been reburied. It is not on display.