Dec 29, 2021 I Paul Seaburn

Well-Preserved Mummy of Amenhotep I Gets Digitally Unwrapped

With the holidays over, some parents may be reviewing the experience and planning ahead for ways to better hide presents from their inquisitive children. If your kid is a budding archeologist … good luck. The mummified body of Pharaoh Amenhotep I had been hidden for thousands of years in Egypt, then locked up for decades away from those who wished to unwrap it because of its beautiful yet fragile flower garlands and lifelike facemask inset with colorful stones. That changed recently when Egyptian archeologists and scientists used three-dimensional medical CT (computed tomography) scanners to ‘digitally unwrap’ the mummy of Amenhotep I and reveal contents that were better than they ever expected.

Amenhotep I 570x376
Pharaoh Amenhotep I with his mother Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. (Public domain)

“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.”

In the press release announcing the scan, whose details were published in Frontiers of Medicine, Dr. Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and radiologist on the Egyptian Mummy Project, first reminds us that Amenhotep I had been unwrapped and rewrapped in the 11th century BCE, possibly because the tomb had been looted by grave robbers. That was 400 years after his reign from 1525 BCE to 1504 BCE. His original tomb was eventually destroyed for renovations to his mortuary temple and has never been positively identified. The mummy was found in 1881 with other reburied royal family members and has been kept safe and unwrapped ever since.

“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.”

They could see he had been circumcised! That’s a tribute to the priests who performed the mummification, those who did the restoration, and the power of modern CT scanning. Saleem says Amenhotep I physically resembled his father, Ahmose I – bearing his narrow chin and nose, curly hair and protruding upper teeth. The scan showed post-mortem mutilations possibly made by the grave robbers but no cause of death at age 35. The scan showed him buried with 30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads befitting his status in death as a god. The fact that the priests who reburied Amenhotep I with his jewels in place was both a tribute to his status and a tribute to the priests, who many archeologists thought had repurposed such burial items for other later leaders.

Amenhotep I in Ram XI
An image of Amenhotep I from his funerary cult. (Public domain)

Are your packages safe from budding young Egyptologists? Dr. Saleem doesn’t think so.

“We show that CT imaging can be profitably used in anthropological and archeological studies on mummies, including those from other civilizations, for example Peru.”

Do you own a lead closet?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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