While excavating an ancient Egyptian cemetery, archaeologists made a rare discovery: an ovarian tumor nestled in the pelvis of a woman who died more than three millennia ago. The tumor, a bony mass with two teeth, is the oldest known example of a teratoma, a rare type of tumor that typically occurs in ovaries or testicles.
A teratoma can be benign or malignant, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and it is usually made up of various tissues, such as muscle, hair, teeth or bone. Teratomas can cause pain and swelling and, if they rupture, can lead to infection. In the present day, removal of the mass is the typical treatment.
Only four archaeological examples of teratomas had previously been found — three inEurope and one in Peru. The recent discovery of a teratoma in the New Kingdom period cemetery in Amarna, Egypt, both founded around 1345 B.C., is only the fifth archaeological case published, making it the oldest known example of a teratoma and the first ancient case found in Africa.