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Scientists have used cutting-edge medical technology to unravel the secrets beneath the envelopes of a 3,000-year-old mummy from ancient Egypt. In a study published in Frontiers in Medicine, the team of scientists described how they were able to scan inside the mummified remains without having to disturb the dilapidated packaging.
The mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who reigned from 1525 to 1504 BC. AD, has never been opened by scientists because of its impeccable condition. Even though other mummies found by 19th and 20th century archaeologists have been unpacked and studied, scientists have agreed to keep the wrapped 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, says Dr Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at Cairo University’s Faculty of Medicine and radiologist from Egypt. Mummy Project, the study’s first author.
“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 technology available for current diagnostic medicine to look under the ancient bandages to learn more about King Pharaoh, including his life, death, and the story of his remains. .
“We show that Amenhotep I was around 35 when he died. He was around 169cm tall, was circumcised and had good teeth, ”Saleem said in the statement. “In his packaging he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden belt with gold beads.”
“Amenhotep I seems 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 re-buried after death. Hieroglyphics have revealed that during Egypt’s 21st Dynasty, priests repaired and re-buried 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 the grave robbers, restored his mummy to its former glory, and kept the magnificent jewelry and amulets in place,” Saleem said.
The 21st Dynasty lasted approximately from 1070 to 945 BC.
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