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Scientists have used cutting-edge medical technology to unlock the secrets beneath the wrappers of a 3,000-year-old mummy from ancient Egypt. In a study published on Frontiers in Medicine, the team of scientists described how they were able to scan the insides of mummified remains without having to disturb the antiquated packaging.
The mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who reigned from 1525 to 1504 BC. AD, has never been opened by scientists due to its pristine condition. Even though other mummies found by 19th and 20th century archaeologists have been unwrapped and studied, scientists have agreed to keep the shrouded remains of Amenhotep I intact to preserve their condition.
The team that digitally ‘unwrapped’ this mummy found a way to study the remains without altering the delicate mummification process, according to Dr. Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at Cairo University Faculty of Medicine and a radiologist of Egypt. Mummy Project, the first author of the study.
“By digitally unwrapping the mummy and ‘peeling off’ its virtual layers – the face mask, the bandages and the mummy itself – we could study this well-preserved pharaoh in unprecedented detail,” Saleem said in a press release. .
Saleem said the team used CT scan technology available to current diagnostic medicine to look under ancient bandages to learn more about the pharaoh king, including his life, death and history of his remains.
“We show that Amenhotep I was around 35 years old when he died. He was about 169cm tall, circumcised and had good teeth,” Saleem said in the statement. “In his wrappings he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden belt with golden beads.”
“Amenhotep I appears to have physically resembled his father: he had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair and slightly protruding upper teeth,” he continued.
The 3D scan gave a clear image of Amenhotep I’s skull and body with details rarely seen before.
In addition to seeing the remains, scientists were able to determine that the body had been repaired and reburied after death. Hieroglyphics revealed that during the 21st Dynasty of Egypt, priests repaired and reburied the mummies after grave robbers looted the king’s resting place and body.
“We show that at least for Amenhotep I, the priests of the 21st Dynasty lovingly repaired the wounds inflicted by grave robbers, restored his mummy to its former glory and kept the magnificent jewels and amulets in place”, Saleem said.
The 21st Dynasty lasted around 1070-945 BC. AD, so these repairs have now lasted 3,000 years.
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