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Dear Matt:

I have read that ancient Egyptians circumcised slaves. Moses kept the practice to remind Hebrews of that episode. I have also read that Egyptian rulers practiced the same rite. Are you knowledgeable if mummies reveal evidence of that practice?

-- bowdukecan, on the Net

Cutting-edge information here. Scientists have run lots of mummies through X-ray machines, revealing that the elite in Egyptian society were circumcised. Bodies from tombs of commoners showed no evidence of it. Egypt is the source of the earliest definite reference to the practice, from 2400 BCE, a depiction of two young men looking none too happy. A kneeling priest with a knife grabs one of them in a way that makes his intent quite clear. The accompanying hieroglyphs read, "Hold them! Don't let them faint!"

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