The perfectly preserved mummified body of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep I has been seen for the first time in centuries after it was digitally ‘unwrapped’ using high-tech scanners.
Researchers have previously refused to uncover the late Pharaoh’s body because of its beautifully decorated wrapping and life-like facemask inset with colourful stones.
However, thanks to new computer topography (CT) scanning technology, the body has been able to be scanned giving researchers a peek behind the layers of wrapping.
Underneath the layers of wrapping, which included flower garlands, Egyptologists were able to find previously unknown details about his appearance and the lavish jewellery he was buried with.
Egyptologists knew from decoded hieroglyphics that the mummy had been unwrapped once in the 11th century BCE – more than four centuries after his original mummification and burial.
But it was believed the priests who did the reburial did so to both repair damage done by grave robbers and to reuse royal burial equipment.
However, Dr Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and the radiologist of the Egyptian Mummy Project, and first author of the study – published in Frontiers in Medicine – said their findings debunked those theories.
She said: “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.
“By digitally unwrapping of the mummy and ‘peeling off’ its virtual layers – the facemask, the bandages, and the mummy itself – we could study this well-preserved pharaoh in unprecedented detail.
“We show that Amenhotep I was approximately 35 years old when he died. He was approximately 169cm tall, circumcised, and had good teeth. Within his wrappings, he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads.
“Amenhotep I seems to have physically resembled his father: he had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair, and mildly protruding upper teeth.”