Experts have recently studied two Egyptian mummies that were discovered back in the year 1615 in a rock-cut tomb. The remains were analyzed by using CT scans that revealed interesting facts about the deceased individuals.
The two mummies, in addition to a third one that was on display in Egypt, are the only surviving “stucco-shrouded portrait mummies” from the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara. And they weren’t buried in coffins as their bodies were put on wooden boards and then wrapped up in a textile that was decorated with gold, 3D plaster, and a portrait of the individual. They were described as a “beautiful mummy shroud” by Stephanie Zesch, who is a physical anthropologist and Egyptologist at the German Mummy Project at Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany, as well as the lead researcher of the study.
The three mummies that were studied were an adult male and two females (one adult woman and one teenager) who lived sometime during the late Roman period (30 BC to 395 AD). The females were both still wearing several necklaces and other artifacts were found with the individuals such as coins that may have been placed with them as a payment to the Roman and Greek deity Charon who was said to carry the souls of the deceased across the River Styx.
The CT scans showed what types of medical conditions the individuals suffered from, such as advanced arthritis in the adult female’s left knee. In an interview with Live Science, Zesch stated, “The examination of the individuals yielded that they died at rather young ages … however, the cause of death of the individuals could not be determined.”
As for their body sizes and when they died, the male, who passed away between 25 and 30 years of age, was about 5 feet 4 inches tall. He had two unerupted teeth (those are teeth that hadn’t grown in yet) and numerous cavities. Several of his bones were broken but researchers believe those happened when he was unwrapped after being found.
The adult female, who stood around 4 feet 11 inches in height, passed away between 30 and 40 years of age. The female teenager was approximately 5 feet 1 inch in height and passed away when she was between 17 and 19 years old. The scan revealed that she had a benign tumor in her spine (called vertebral hemangioma) which was odd as it normally shows up in people over 40 years of age.
The adults’ brains were not preserved and they couldn’t find any proof that they had been removed prior to their burials. On the other hand, the teenager’s brain was preserved (despite shrinking over the years) as well as her internal organs. “We are quite sure there was no removing the brain or the internal organs,” Zesch noted, adding, “It's very probable that those mummies were only preserved because of a kind of dehydration with the use of [the desiccation mixture] natron, but there is not a huge amount of embalming liquids.” (Pictures from the scans can be seen here.)
The research was published in the journal PLOS One where it can be read in full.