Egyptian researchers “digitally unwrapped” a 3,500-year-old royal mummy for the first time in a millennia using advanced x-ray technology and computerized tomography (CT) scanning.
Dr. Zahi Mawass and Dr. Sahar Saleem discovered previously unknown information about King Amenhotep I — including his age when he died, his health condition, his mummification process, and his burial — without having to peel away the linen bandages.
“This digital unwrapping method is safe, unlike the old method of physical unwrapping and dissecting the mummies, which caused damage of the precious heritage,” a statement on Hawass’ website said.
The researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine on Dec. 28, determined that Amenhotep I was around 35 years old when he died and that no diseases or injuries appeared to indicate the cause of his death.
Instead, the researchers said that the pharaoh died as a result of an infection or a virus.
Although, scans showed that the mummy suffered from multiple post-mortem injuries that the researchers said were likely inflicted by tomb robbers.
The researchers also discovered that Amenhotep I was the first pharaoh to have his forearms folded across his chest, which is known as the Osiris position.
The researchers also discovered that Amenhotep I’s brain was still present, unlike most of the kings of the modern kingdom whose brains were removed as part of the mummification process.
The scans also showed that the facial features of Amenhotep I resembled those of his father, Ahmose I.
The scans also revealed that Amenhotep I was buried with 30 amulets and a belt with 34 gold beads, which disproved theories that priests might have removed the jewelry from mummies to use them for later pharaohs.
The researchers said they plan to conduct the same comprehensive analysis to all royal mummies.
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