May 26, 2022


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The 3,000-Year-Old Mummy of a Famous Egyptian Pharaoh Has Been Digitally Unwrapped

The mummy of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep I was so exquisitely wrapped – decorated with flower garlands and buried with a lifelike facial area mask – scientists have been hesitant to open up up the remains. That is, till now.


Some 3,000 decades soon after Amenhotep’s burial, a staff of researchers used CT scans to digitally unwrap his entire body for the to start with time, pretty much peering via the many layers to expose what he would’ve looked like when alive (he took following his dad it looks). 

They also uncovered that the pharaoh, who ruled from about 1525 BCE to 1504 BCE, was 35 decades outdated and 5.5 feet (169 centimeters) tall when he died he was also circumcised and experienced great tooth, the scientists reported. Beneath the wrappings were being 30 amulets as nicely as “a unique golden girdle with gold beads,” research co-writer Sahar Saleem, a radiology professor at Cairo University’s faculty of medication, said in a statement. 

Associated: What is the historical Egyptian ‘mummy’s curse’?

This girdle could have had “a magical that means,” and the amulets “just about every had a functionality to assist the deceased king in the afterlife,” Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s previous minister of antiquities and co-author of the new review published Tuesday (Dec. 28) in the journal Frontiers in Drugs, advised Stay Science in an e-mail. 

“Amenhotep I’s mummy is wearing a piece of jewelry termed a girdle. The ancient Egyptians wore jewellery like this close to their waists. Some girdles, as this just one, have shell amulets on the facet,” Saleem explained to Reside Science in an electronic mail.

Amenhotep I, April 2006, Cairo Museum, Egypt. (Patrick Landmann/Getty Photos)

Amenhotep I

Egypt expanded in northern Sudan in the course of the time that Amenhotep I reigned through the 18th dynasty. The pharaoh initiated a developing method that noticed the building or enlargement of various temples. Nobody understands how the pharaoh died or in which he was originally buried.


A workforce led by French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero uncovered Amenhotep’s mummy in 1881, together with numerous other mummies in a tomb on the west financial institution of Thebes (contemporary-day Luxor). His mummy experienced been positioned in the tomb someday during the 21st dynasty (close to 1070 BCE to 945 BCE) soon after it was robbed in ancient periods. 

Researchers found that the robbers experienced destroyed the pharaoh’s body. “The CT photographs clearly show the extent of problems of the mummy of Amenhotep I that associated neck fractures and decapitation, a huge defect in the anterior stomach wall, and disarticulation of the extremities,” which includes the correct hand and foot, wrote Saleem and Hawass in their journal write-up. 

The researchers discovered that monks experienced repaired the mummy by positioning detached limbs back in their location, using resin to enable maintain parts of the mummy jointly and rewrapping sections of the mummy with refreshing bandages. 

“We show that at least for Amenhotep I, the monks of the 21st dynasty lovingly fixed the injuries inflicted by the tomb robbers, restored his mummy to its former glory, and preserved the magnificent jewellery and amulets in spot,” stated Saleem in the assertion.

What killed the pharaoh is unclear. “We couldn’t locate any wounds or disfigurement due to condition to justify the cause of death,” Saleem reported in the statement. 

Pharaoh's skull showed his teeth were in good condition at the time of death. (S. Saleem/Z. Hawass)Pharaoh’s skull confirmed his enamel were in excellent ailment at the time of dying. (S. Saleem/Z. Hawass)

The scans drop mild on what the pharaoh appeared like when he was alive. “Amenhotep I appears to have physically resembled his father [Ahmose I]: He had a slender chin, a tiny slender nose, curly hair, and mildly protruding higher enamel” said Saleem. 

Most pharaonic mummies have been physically unwrapped or thoroughly studied working with CT scans, the researchers said, noting that Amenhotep I was one of the handful of royal mummies that had not been examined in element.

“This reality that Amenhotep I’s mummy had by no means been unwrapped in present day occasions gave us a exceptional chance: not just to study how he had at first been mummified and buried, but also how he had been dealt with and reburied twice, centuries after his death, by Higher Clergymen of Amun,” Saleem said. 

Shrunken cranium and skeleton beneath the wrappings. (Picture credit history: S. Saleem and Z. Hawass)

Stay Science achieved out to students not associated with the research. “It can be all incredibly attention-grabbing, but I am not absolutely sure you will find anything earth-shattering here,” stated Aidan Dodson, an Egyptology professor at the College of Bristol in the Uk.

The golden girdle “may possibly be with out immediate parallels, but nearly all other royal mummies were entirely robbed, so this will not mean very significantly,” Dodson explained, noting that other royal mummies may well have worn related girdles that have been subsequently stolen. 


It’s doable that the 21st dynasty priests put the golden girdle on Amenhotep I, mentioned Kara Cooney, an Egyptology professor at UCLA.

The significant monks of Amun, who effectively controlled pieces of Egypt through the 21st dynasty, regarded Amenhotep I as an ancestor and may perhaps have shown their passion for the pharaoh by positioning this girdle on him, Cooney told Are living Science in an electronic mail.

Cooney stated that she will go over this topic much more in an forthcoming e-book identified as “Recycling for demise” that will be printed by American College in Cairo Press.

Connected articles:

3 Egyptian mummy faces disclosed in beautiful reconstruction

In images: A glance inside of an Egyptian mummy

Why had been the ancient Egyptians obsessed with cats?

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