Ancient mummies were decorated with gold and portraits: scientists conducted tomography of mummies without opening them

Scientists conduct computed tomography of ancient mummies

The archaeologists managed to look inside the ancient Egyptian mummies that are dated 1615. The researchers used a computed tomography method. Two mummies were found in a rock-cut tomb. Another one, which also underwent computed tomography, was in one of the museums in Egypt. They are the only surviving so-called portrait mummies with molded decorations from Sakkara.

Unlike others that were buried in tombs, these three ended up in wooden boxes on planks. The mummies were wrapped in cloth and adorned with three-dimensional plaster of paris, gold, and full body portraits.


A lead-researcher Stephanie Sesch from the Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Germany, noted that using computed tomography, the scientists even saw the beads of a necklace on the body and neck of a deceased woman. The study showed that one of the mummies had organs and even a brain. Two of the mummies were women, one was a man.

The teenage girl was buried around the late Roman period. Artifacts that were next to the body were probably considered as useful for the afterlife. The coins, which, according to mythology, were intended to pay for Charon, an ancient deity who transported souls across the Styx River, were among them.

The surveys of the mummies even revealed health problems. One of the deceased women was diagnosed with arthritis. All three died at a fairly young age, but the cause of death could not be established. It is known that the mummies were transported from place to place, and before one of them ended up in the museum collection, it was subjected to X-rays in Germany in 1980.


However, the method of computed tomography made it possible to learn much more than all previous studies. For example, a man was between 25 and 30 years, his height was 163 centimeters, he had two teeth that did not erupt. Some of his bones were broken, possibly due to the constant overturning of the mummy by vandals and tomb treasure hunters.

His brain did not survive and there is an evidence that after death he was removed through the nose. No embalming agents were used: after removing the viscera, the body was wrapped in cloth and painted.