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Researchers ‘Unwrap’ Mummy with Digital Imaging

Credit: Unsplash

Researchers got a glimpse beneath the bandages of an ancient king.

Out of all of Egypt’s many ancient pharaohs, one of the most famous was Pharaoh Amenhotep I. Amenhotep I was the very first pharaoh to separate his mortuary temple from his actual tomb, a practice believed to be employed to throw off potential grave robbers. When Amenhotep I died, he was the first to be mummified with his arms in the iconic crossed shape, as well as the last to have his brain left in his skull.

Amenhotep I’s remains were uncovered back in 1881, but researchers haven’t been able to look beneath his funerary mask, as disturbing the remains in any way could irrevocably damage them. Thanks to a research project conducted by Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at Cairo University, and renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, this is no longer a concern.

Utilizing a combination of X-rays, CT scanning, and digital imaging, the researchers were able to scan Amenhotep I’s remains and create a near-complete picture of his actual body beneath the funerary mask, all without physically touching it. For the very first time in history, researchers got a real glimpse of Amenhotep I’s actual face (or what’s left of it), which in turn revealed information about the state of his body at the time of his death and the meticulous process that went into his mummification.

Interestingly, the scan revealed that Amenhotep I actually died at the surprisingly young age of 35, though the researchers haven’t quite been able to determine whether this death was due to injury or illness. Of course, back in 1525 BC, men had an average life expectancy of around 34, so he was actually doing pretty well for himself.