"In 2002, I examined samples of funerary textiles from these sites that had been sent to various museums in the United Kingdom through the 1930s from Egypt," Jana Jones of Macquarie University, Sydney, said.
Preliminary microscopic analysis by Jones revealed resins were likely to have been used. After a number of aborted attempts by other experts, Stephen Buckley, a Research Fellow at the University of York, was able to carry successful biochemical analysis.
Using a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and sequential thermal desorption-pyrolysis, Buckley examined 23 samples of wrappings from Mostagedda. Radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit confirmed the Late Neolithic and predynastic dating of the textiles, with the oldest wrappings dating between 4316-3986 B.C.
Buckley identified a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum/sugar, a natural petroleum source, and a plant oil/animal fat in the wrappings.
"These are embalming agents," Buckley told Discovery News.