Latest Issue of Science News


Ancient birth brick emerges in Egypt

Excavators of a 3,700-year-old Egyptian town have delivered a surprising find–a painted brick that was one of a pair once used to support a woman's feet while she squatted during childbirth. Until now known only from ancient Egyptian writing, so-called birth bricks were used in childbirth rituals that called on gods to secure the health of newborns.

The newly discovered mud birth brick was identified by the scene on it depicting a mother with her newborn baby, attended by several women and Hathor, a cow goddess associated with birth and motherhood.

Archaeologist Josef Wegner of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the dig director, suspects that a princess named Renseneb used the brick. It turned up in a residential wing for females in a mayor's mansion (SN: 8/28/99, p. 139). Inscribed clay-seal impressions found near the brick refer to Renseneb, who may have married one of the town's powerful mayors, Wegner says.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.