Sunday, October 1

Digitally unwrapping a mummy: this is the technology that has made it possible to study the body of a pharaoh without removing the bandages

The mummy of Amenhotep I is quite particular for several reasons. One of them is that it is one of the few of the royalty of Ancient Egypt that keeps its bandages. Another, which was buried twice, the first time when the monarch died, in 1,504 BC, and the second four centuries later, when priests decided to repair the damage that his remains had suffered at the hands of grave robbers. And now it has just added a new uniqueness by becoming the first mummy that has been digitally unwrapped for your study thanks to technology.

To study the mummies, the researchers remove the bandages and inspect the mortal remains with different instruments. But the good state of conservation of Amenhotep I’s bandage and the fine decoration of his funerary mask have meant that, up to now, no scientist has wanted to develop it.

However, researchers from the University of Cairo decided to use computerized tomography to digitally remove the pharaoh’s bandages without altering their state of conservation. This procedure is usually used in medicine and consists of capturing images in detail and from different angles of the interior of the human body by means of X-rays that, then, are processed on a computer to create a three-dimensional view of tissues and organs.

Thus, applied to the corpse of Amenhotep I, this technology has enabled researchers to obtain an accurate digital recreation of your body under bandages, according to the study that have published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine. Thanks to her they have been able to know that his face was oval, with a narrow chin and nose, that his left ear was pierced and he was circumcised. They have also determined that he was 35 years old at the time of death – previously it was thought that he died when he was 20 years old – and that his soft tissues and bones do not show bruises or signs of disease, so it is likely that he perished as a result of an infection .

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The tomography has also confirmed that Amenhotep I had been reburied and that his body had been treated four centuries after his death. The priests who made it they put the pharaoh’s head back in placefor the grave robbers had ripped it from the body when looting it, and repaired loose bandages. Prior to this process, it was known that the mummy had been restored some time after the death of the monarch because the hieroglyphs inscribed on his sarcophagus indicated this.

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Likewise, the scan has made it possible to verify that Pharaoh’s internal organs were removed to prevent the body from decomposing, a common technique of the time, with the exception of the heart, which was left inside the body because they believed that that was where the soul resided.

Image 1 | Richard Mortel