The scanned mummy is an excellent display of ancient Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife during the Ptolemaic period.
The ancient Egyptians believed that when the person dies, his spiritual body can access a life after death, similar to that of this world. But entry into this afterlife is not guaranteed: it first requires a perilous journey through the underworld, followed by an individual final judgment. For this reason, the relatives of the deceased and the embalmers who took care of his corpse did everything possible so that he could reach that long-awaited destination. Because of this, the study of mummies and everything that accompanies them can reveal many details about those beliefs.
The team of. Sahar Saleem, an expert in paleoradiology and a professor at the Cairo University School of Medicine in Egypt, used CT scanning to “digitally unwrap” the intact and never-opened mummy of a teenager from 2,300 years ago, who enjoyed the life of a high socioeconomic level.
The “Golden Boy” mummy was discovered in 1916 in a burial ground used approximately between 332 and 30 BC at Nag el-Hassay in southern Egypt. From then until the present study, the mummy has been kept unexamined in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The study authors estimate the boy was between 14 and 15 years old when he died. His teeth were good, with no evidence of decay, tooth loss, or periodontal disease.
The mummy’s face, revealed by CT scans. (Image: SN Saleem, SA Seddik, M el-Halwagy. )
Saleem and his colleagues have been pleased to find that this “golden boy” is almost a handy catalog of ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife. The body of this mummy was profusely decorated with no less than 49 amulets. Many are gold. Her purpose was to protect her body and give her vitality in the afterlife.
The mummy was deposited in two sarcophagi, one outside with a Greek inscription and another interior made of wood. The mummy was fitted with, among other things, a head mask, a kind of chest armor to cover the front of the torso, and a pair of sandals for the feet. Apart from the heart, the viscera were removed through an incision, while the brain was removed through the nose and replaced with resin.
The sandals were probably placed in the belief that they would help the boy to walk.
The findings made in this study provide a unique insight into mummification procedures and beliefs about the importance of funerary ornaments during the Ptolemaic period, which will require some time to be fully analysed.
The study is titled “Scanning and 3D-printing using Computed Tomography (CT) of the ‘Golden boy’ mummy”. And it has been published in the academic journal Frontiers in Medicine. (Fountain: NCYT by Amazings)