The researchers used a CT scan to practically unwrap the intact mummy

In 1881, archaeologists discovered the mummy of Amenhotep I in Deir el-Bahari, a village outside the famous Egyptian Valley of the Kings. For 140 years, scientists have been reluctant to unwrap the king’s body for fear of damaging his ornate face mask and bandages. But thanks to computed tomography (CT) technology, they no longer have to take that risk. Researchers from the University of Cairo recently digitally “unwrapped” Amenhotep to find out about his life and dynasty.

A scan showed he was about 35 when he died. “It seems that Amenhotep I physically looked like his father: he had a narrow beard, a small narrow nose, curly hair and slightly protruding upper teeth,” said Dr. Sahar Saleem, lead author of the study. PA Media. It is not clear why he passed away at such a young age. Researchers found no evidence of external wounds or mutilations that could have contributed to his death.

Sahar Saleem et al.

What they discovered were various autopsies that were probably inflicted on the body by grave robbers. This damage was “lovingly repaired” by the 21st dynasty mortuaries some 400 years after Amenhotep’s death. They used resin-treated linen tape to reconnect the head and neck. Researchers also found about 30 amulets hidden among Amenhotep’s bandages. The fact that they were still there even after his reburial probably refutes the long-held theory that priests of later dynasties would re-use ornaments in the funeral rites of their pharaohs.

The study provides an insight into one of the most fascinating periods in Egyptian history. Amenhotep I ruled between 1525 and 1504 BC, during the Egyptian New Kingdom. He was among the first pharaohs of the 18th dynasty, a lineage that would later include Akhenaten, the controversial “heretic” pharaoh who introduced the kingdom to a monotheistic religion centered around the sun. He was also the father of Tutankhamun or King Tut.

Archaeologists first used a CT scan to examine the mummy in 1977. As technology matured and became more accessible, it allowed researchers to study mummies in ways they could not before. In 2017, for example, the Chicago Field Museum was able to dive into its collection, one of the largest in the U.S., with the help of portable CT scanners.

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