Cutting-edge technology enables researchers to digitally unwrap a 3,500-year-old Egyptian pharaoh's mummy, unveiling hidden mysteries.
Technology has paved the way for newer discoveries to be made in almost every domain of research. Mummies have always been a source of fascination for us and we have always endeavored to learn as much as we can about them. Recently, researchers working in Egypt were able to digitally unwrap the mummy of Amenhotep I, as reported by the Smithsonian Magazine. This process has revealed exciting information about the pharaoh who lived many centuries ago.
Some of these features include basic biological information such as his age, height and facial shape. Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist who worked on the team, spoke to NBC News and said, "For the first time, we can know information about the mummy without disturbing the mummy." Hawass worked with Sahar Saleem, a paleoradiology export, to utilize X-ray and computerized tomography scanning methods to render 3-D images of the 3,500-year-old mummy. Their fascinating findings have also been published in the Frontiers in Medicine journal.
Amenhotep, who was also known as Amenophis I, was the king of Egypt from 1525 to 1504 B.C. He was the second king of the 18th Dynasty. Ahmose I, his father, was known for reuniting Egypt and recapturing territory around the Nile River by facing Hyksos' forces, effectively pushing the region into an era known as the New Kingdom. According to Britannica, Amenhotep made a name for himself by fighting many wars with Nubia that allowed Egypt to increase its borders. He moved into a Middle Kingdom fortress at Sinai and restarted mines that were there.
There are also speculations that Amenhotep possessed territory within Syria. He also constructed many temples across the country, one of which was a shrine to Amun, the Egyptian god of air, at Karnak. Another thing that set Amenhotep apart from other pharaohs was that he was buried in a tomb that was not part of his mortuary temple, as reported by Hyperallergic. What is sure to make the case even more interesting is that the location of Amenhotep's original grave is still unknown.
Archaeologists discovered his mummy at Deir El-Bahri, a site located in Luxor. 21st-Dynasty officials stored his body along with many other royal mummies to safeguard them from tomb robbers. Researchers estimated that Amenhotep was roughly 35 years old at the time of his death. There were also no obvious signs that stood as a cause of his death.
Saleem said in a statement, "He was approximately [5-foot-6], circumcised and had good teeth. Within his wrappings, he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads." Supposedly, each of these amulets had a distinctive function that would help the deceased king during the afterlife. Thanks to digital unwrapping, Amenhotep's mummy remains relatively undisturbed. However, the majority of royal mummies that have survived till today have been unwrapped.
Saleem explained how mummies helped research, saying, "Royal mummies of the New Kingdom were the most well-preserved ancient bodies ever found. Thus, these mummies are considered as 'time capsules.'" He continued, "They can give us information about how the ancient kings and queens looked, their health, ancient diseases, mummification technique, manufacturing techniques of their funerary objects (such as the funerary mask, amulets, jewelry, coffins)."