Decorated with flower garlands and a seductive wooden face mask, the mummy was so fragile that archaeologists would never have dared to uncover the remains, making it the only royal Egyptian mummy found in the 19th and 20th centuries that has not yet been opened for study.
Using non-invasive, digital techniques, Egyptian scientists have used three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) scanning to unpack the 3,500-year-old mummy and study its contents.
“By digitally extracting the mummy and peeling off its virtual layers — the face mask, the bandages, and the mummy itself — we were able to study this well-preserved pharaoh in unprecedented detail,” said Dr. Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and the radiologist of the Egyptian Mummy Project, said in a press release.
Saleem and her colleagues found that Amenhotep I was about 35 years old and 169 centimeters (5.5 feet) tall when he died. He was also circumcised and had healthy teeth. About 30 amulets and a unique gold belt were found in the casings.
The pharaoh also had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair and slightly protruding upper teeth, Saleem said. Their study revealed no wounds or deformities that would explain the cause of his death.
Amenhotep I ruled Egypt for about 21 years, between 1525 and 1504 BC. He was the second king of the 18th dynasty and had a largely peaceful reign during which he built many temples.
The researchers also found that the mummy had suffered multiple postmortem injuries, likely caused by ancient grave robbers, who, according to hieroglyphic texts, priests and embalmers then tried to repair in the 21st Dynasty — more than four centuries after he was first mummified and buried.
Before studying the mummy, Saleem had thought that these priests and embalmers mentioned in the texts might have unwrapped the mummy to reuse some items such as amulets for later pharaohs, which was common at the time. But that wasn’t the case, she said.
“We show that, at least before 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 preserved the beautiful jewelry and amulets in place,” said Saleem in the press release. rack.