Egyptologists have been able to study the mummified body of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh for the first time in thousands of years after digitally “unwrapping” the mummy’s scrolls using three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) scanning. The findings were published on Tuesday in Frontiers in Medicine.
The mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who ruled Egypt from 1525 to 1504 BC, was found 140 years ago in the Deir El-Bahari temple in Luxor, Upper Egypt. But archeologists refrained from opening it in order to preserve the unique mask and bandages. The first time in three millennia that Amenhotep’s mummy has been opened was in the 11th century BCE, more than four centuries after his original mummification and burial.
According to the paper, priests restored and reburied royal mummies from more ancient dynasties, to repair the damage done by grave robbers during the later 21st dynasty.
“This fact that Amenhotep I’s mummy had never been unwrapped in modern times gave us a unique opportunity: not just to study how he had originally been mummified and buried, but also how he had been treated and reburied twice, centuries after his death, by High Priests of Amun,” said Sahar Selim, professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and the study’s first author.
Selim added in a statement: “By digitally unwrapping the mummy and ‘peeling off’ its virtual layers – the facemask, the bandages, and the mummy itself – we could study this well-preserved pharaoh in unprecedented detail.”
“We show that Amenhotep I was approximately 35 years old when he died. He was approximately 169cm tall, circumcised, and had good teeth. Within his wrappings, he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads.”
She further explained: “Amenhotep I seems to have physically resembled his father. He had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair, and mildly protruding upper teeth.”
The authors did not notice any wounds or deformities resulting from a disease that might indicate the cause of the death of the king.