In 1881, archaeologists discovered the mummy of Amenhotep I in Deir el-Bahri, a village outside Egypt’s famous Valley of the Kings. For 140 years, scientists were unwilling to untie the lid of the king’s body for fear of damaging his ornate face mask and bandages. But thanks to computerized tomography (CT) technology, they don’t have to take that risk anymore. Researchers at Cairo University recently “decoded” Amenhotep to learn about his life and lineage.
Scans revealed that he was 35 years old when he died. “Amenhotep I appears to be physically similar to his father: a narrow chin, small nose, curly hair and slightly protruding upper teeth,” said Dr. Sahar Selim, the study’s lead author. Media PA. It is not clear why he died at such a young age. The researchers found no evidence of injuries or external deformities that may have contributed to his death.
What they discovered were numerous postmortem injuries that likely had been inflicted on the body by grave robbers. This damage was “lovingly repaired” by cadaver chaplains from the Twenty-first Dynasty some 400 years after Amenhotep’s death. They used a resin treated linen tie to reattach the head and neck together. The researchers also found about 30 amulets hidden among the bandages of Amenhotep. It is possible that the fact that they were still there even after his reburial refutes the ancient theory that priests of later dynasties would reuse the motifs in the funeral rites of their pharaohs.
The study provides an insight into one of the most fascinating periods in Egyptian history. Amenhotep I ruled between 1525 and 1504 BC, during the New Kingdom period in Egypt. Among the first pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty, a dynasty that later included Akhenaten, the controversial “heretic” pharaoh who introduced the kingdom to a monotheistic religion centered on the sun. He was also the father of Tutankhamun or King Tut.
The first time archaeologists used CT scans to examine a mummy was in 1977. As the technology matured and became more accessible, it allowed researchers to study mummies in ways they could not before. In 2017, for example, the Chicago Field Museum was able to dive into its collection, one of the most widely distributed in the United States, with the help of portable CT scanners.
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