Scientists in Egypt “digitally unwrapped” a 3,500-year-old mummy, revealing secrets that had eluded researchers for centuries.
Experts at Cairo University used 3D CT scanners, which create an image of what is under layers of clothing and even skin.
The scans provided a look at the body of Amenhotep I “in unprecedented detail,” Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology and lead author of a study on the mummy, said in a news release Tuesday.
Amenhotep was the second pharaoh of Egypt’s 18th dynasty. He ruled for about 21 years around 1525 BC.
His body had lain undisturbed since its discovery in 1888 at the archeological site Deir el-Bahari on the Nile River.
Most royal mummies discovered in the 19th and 20th centuries have long been unwrapped, according to the release.But because Amenhotep I’s remains were so perfectly wrapped, adorned with flower garlands and a delicate facemask inset with colorful stones, scientists decided not to disturb it.
Using the scanners, the scientists found that Amenhotep was about 35 when he died.
He was about 169 centimeters, or about 5 feet, 6 inches, tall, circumcised, had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair, mildly protruding upper teeth, and a pierced left ear, according to the study. He likely bore a striking resemblance to his father, said Saleem.
Within his wrappings, he wore “30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads,” Saleem said.
Amenhotep I was seemingly healthy when he died, with no apparent injuries, she said. His teeth were even in good condition.
“We couldn’t find any wounds or disfigurement due to disease to justify the cause of death, except numerous mutilations post mortem, presumably by grave robbers after his first burial,” she said in the release.
The damage done by the grave robbers can be seen in the picture of the remains below. The long arrow points to two fingers that were snapped out off of Amenhotep’s left hand and placed in his abdomen.
Amenhotep’s arms would likely originally have been crossed across his torso, a custom first seen on his mummy that was then followed by kings who came later, Saleem told Insider in an email.
The 3D scan also revealed that Amenhotep’s brain was left in place in the skull, unlike the remains of most other kings, Saleem told Insider.
Amenhotep’s remains were likely restored and reburied by priests many years later as part of a “noble” project to protect kings rather than strip them from their precious amulets and jewelry, Saleem told Insider.
The mystery as to how Amenhotep died remains.