High-tech scanners ‘unwrapped’ a mummified Egyptian pharaoh, revealing a seemingly healthy 35-year-old with no clues for how he died

Royal mummy of Amenhotep I in April 2006, at the Cairo Museum in Egypt.
  • The 3,500-year-old mummy of Amenhotep I was digitally uncovered for the first time.
  • It revealed that he appeared healthy when he died at about 35, with no apparent cause of death.
  • The mummy is so delicately and ornately wrapped that scientists had been scared to disturb it.

Scientists in Egypt “digitally unwrapped” a 3,500-year-old mummy, revealing secrets that had eluded researchers for centuries. 

Experts at Cairo University used 3D CT scanners, which create an image of what is under layers of clothing and even skin.

The scans provided a look at the body of Amenhotep I “in unprecedented detail,” Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology and lead author of a study on the mummy, said in a news release Tuesday.

The pharaoh’s mummy, showing his shrunken skull and skeleton within the bandages

Amenhotep I’s body had lain undisturbed since its discovery in 1888 at the archeological site Deir el-Bahari on the Nile River.

Most royal mummies discovered in the 19th and 20th centuries have long been unwrapped, according to the release.

Using the scanners, the scientists found that Amenhotep was about 35 when he died.

He was about 169 centimeters, or about 5 feet, 6 inches, tall, circumcised, had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair, and mildly protruding upper teeth, Saleem said. 

Within his wrappings, he wore “30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads,” Saleem said.

Front and side views of Amenhoteps’ skull seen through his bandages using a 3D CT scanner.

Amenhotep I was seemingly healthy when he died, with no apparent injuries, she said.

“We couldn’t find any wounds or disfigurement due to disease to justify the cause of death, except numerous mutiliations post mortem, presumably by grave robbers after his first burial,” she said in the release. 

The mystery as to how Amenhotep I died remains, according to the release.

Facemask of the unwrapped mummy of pharaoh Amenhotep I.

Amenhotep was the second pharaoh of Egypt’s 18th dynasty. He ruled for about 21 years around 1525 BC.

After his death, his mother and he were worshipped as gods, according to the news release. 

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