CT scan helps digitally unwrap mummy of pharaoh Amenhotep I

The mummy of pharaoh Amenhotep I, who ruled Egypt between 1525 and 1504 BC, has now been digitally unwrapped using CT scans.

The paper published today in Frontiers in Medicine reveals minute details of the life and death of the pharaoh. He was about 169 cm tall, circumcised, and died around the age of 35 years. The cause of death was not clear.

The scan also helped visualise the face. He had an oval face with a small, flattened nose and narrow chin, and coiled hair. The team writes that his upper teeth were mildly protruding and there was a small piercing in the lobule of the left ear. He also had a complete set of teeth, including all of the third molars.

Thirty amulets or jewellery pieces made of gold, quartz, and beads were found in the mummy which was wrapped in linen. The paper adds that the mummy was covered from head to feet in floral garlands and the head was also covered with a mask made of painted wood and cartonnage. The face was painted pale yellow and the contour of the eyes and eyebrows marked in black.

“This fact that Amenhotep I’s mummy had never been unwrapped in modern times gave us a unique opportunity: not just to study how he had originally been mummified and buried, but also how he had been treated and reburied twice, centuries after his death, by High Priests of Amun,” said Dr. Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and radiologist of the Egyptian Mummy Project, the study’s first author, in a release.

The mummy had suffered from several postmortem injuries likely inflicted by ancient tomb robbers. Amenhotep I’s mummy was later restored by priests of the 21st dynasty who “lovingly repaired the injuries…restored his mummy to its former glory, and preserved the magnificent jewellery and amulets in place,” Dr. Saleem said.

The mummy of Amenhotep I (meaning ‘Amun is satisfied’) was discovered in 1881 at the archeological site Deir el Bahari in southern Egypt.

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