Amenhotep I ruled Egypt from about 1525 to 1504 BC. He was never undone, but now CT scans have allowed us to see the inside of his mummy.
In 1881, a French Egyptologist found the mummy of Amenhotep I. However, the king's body was protected by a carefully preserved outer shell and elaborate face mask. It has remained sealed in its sarcophagus ever since.
Now, Cairo University researchers in Egypt Sahar Saleem and (the inevitable) Zahi Hawass they “digitally scrapped” Amenhotep I's mummy with computed tomography (CT), using hundreds of high-resolution X-ray sections to reconstruct the king's skeleton and soft tissue.
More than a mummy, a time machine
“Royal New Kingdom mummies are the best preserved ancient bodies ever found, so these mummies can tell us a lot,” says Saleem.
“They can tell us what the ancient kings and queens looked like, their health. They can tell us about ancient diseases, mummification techniques and methods of making funerary objects ”.
Amenhotep I's mummy has been examined using simple X-ray scans in the past, but the detailed CT scan reveals several new facts: his bone structure indicates he was 35 years old and was 168,5 centimeters tall when he died.
"Unbundled" also a mystery
According to the findings, Amenhotep I was embalmed by Egyptian priests for a second time 300 years after his first burial, after tomb robbers looted his coffin. Saleem thinks that the priests took advantage of the situation to loot precious gems placed on the body and in the bandages before "closing" the mummy.
A work so well done that over 3000 years later 19th century archaeologists decided not to ruin it. Now, thanks to technology, we have been able to see what's inside even without removing the bandages.