Fabric fragments of ancient history.
These 6,000-year-old pieces of linen contain the chemical secret of mummification.
The Egyptian mummy - the body preserved as a vessel for the eternal soul - is an icon of this ancient civilisation.
Its been resurrected in many a Hollywood film.
But far from Egypts great tombs, here in a storage facility for Bolton Museum in Northern England
the ancient Egyptians embalming recipe has finally come to light, contained in textiles in the collection.
With things like these textiles that dont look much to look at at all…
but you do the chemistry, and suddenly they become hugely significant to our human past
and really gets to the heart of what they were about at this time through the science, which you simply cant tell by looking.
So really, the science brings this material to life.
The recipe they revealed, an embalming liquid containing plant extracts, was probably mixed in a base of sesame oil.
You can actually still find some of those key ingredients from that embalming recipe today.
So this is one of them - gum arabic, which is a plant-based confectioners gum thats on sale in Egypt.
And this - this is a really key ingredient - this is pine resin, antibacterial to prevent the body from decaying.
The same mixture of substances was found on this intact mummy from 3,500BC showing that the process is much older than previously thought.
Pushing the timeline of mummification back by 1,500 years
it shows to us that it wasnt just at the point where mummification we know was very popular: it was happening much earlier.
So, who knows what secrets scientists will unearth next in the storeroom of a local museum?