Article

Multidetector Computed Tomographic Study of Amulets, Jewelry, and Other Foreign Objects in Royal Egyptian Mummies Dated From the 18th to 20th Dynasties

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to study the role of multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) in the analysis of foreign objects found within or on the royal Egyptian mummies. We studied MDCT images of 15 royal Egyptian mummies (1493-1156 BC) for the presence of foreign objects. We studied each found object for its location, morphology, dimensions, and density in correlation with the archeologic literature. We detected 14 objects in 6 mummies: a heart amulet, 3 Eye of Horus, 4 Sons of Horus, a crowned-Osiris amulet, 2 bracelets, 2 sets of beads/stones, and an arrowhead that may be linked to injury. The MDCT images suggested the material of the objects to be metal (n = 6), semiprecious stone (n = 1), quartzlike (faience) (n = 2), and fired clay (n = 5). Placement of an amulet within the heart supports our knowledge that its funeral purpose was meant for the purpose of protection. Multidetector computed tomography offers a detailed noninvasive analysis of objects on/in mummies and differentiates funerary objects from those that may be related to cause of death.

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... We measured the CT density of the objects in Hounsfield units (HU) by placing a region of interest (ROI) within the object. The material of the object was determined according to its HU measurements: metal (>2,978 HU); quartz/faience (1,693-2,317 HU), stones (about 2,900-2,500 HU), and fired clay (1,116 HU SD 54.7) (17). We correlated the CT findings of the mummy with the available archaeological data and previous physical and radiological studies. ...
... The type of material used to make the amulet depended on the wealth of the deceased (8). The CT densities of the amulets/jewelry enabled the identification of its material composition (17). The CT densities of the amulets of Amenhotep I suggest that they are made from different materials: 11 metal amulets and jewelry (likely golden), 13 quartz/faience amulets, five fired clay amulets, and one stone amulet. ...
... However, fewer jewelry pieces were found in the royal mummies of the New Kingdom found in cached burials. Previous CT studies of the royal mummies of the New Kingdom found in the two royal caches identified Thutmose III (BC) to be wearing two golden bracelets hidden behind the wrappings (17). In this study, FIGURE 11 | Axial CT image of the face mask at the level of the eyes. ...
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The mummy of King Amenhotep I (18th Dynasty c.1525–1504 BC) was reburied by the 21st Dynasty priests at Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache. In 1881 the mummy was found fully wrapped and was one of few royal mummies that have not been unwrapped in modern times. We hypothesized that non-invasive digital unwrapping using CT would provide insights on the physical appearance, health, cause of death, and mummification style of the mummy of King Amenhotep I. We examined the mummy with CT and generated two- and three-dimensional images for the head mask, bandages, and the virtually unwrapped mummy. CT enabled the visualization of the face of Amenhotep I who died around the age of 35 years. The teeth had minimal attrition. There was no CT evidence of pathological changes or cause of death. The body has been eviscerated via a vertical left flank incision. The heart is seen in the left hemithorax with an overlying amulet. The brain has not been removed. The mummy has 30 amulets/jewelry pieces including a beaded metallic (likely gold) girdle. The mummy suffered from multiple postmortem injuries likely inflicted by tomb robbers that have been likely treated by 21st Dynasty embalmers. These included fixing the detached head and neck to the body with a resin-treated linen band; covering a defect in the anterior abdominal wall with a band and placing two amulets beneath; placement of the detached left upper limb beside the body and wrapping it to the body. The transversely oriented right forearm is individually wrapped, likely representing the original 18th Dynasty mummification and considered the first known New Kingdom mummy with crossed arms at the chest. The head mask is made of cartonnage and has inlaid stone eyes. The digital unwrapping of the mummy of Amenhotep I using CT sets a unique opportunity to reveal the physical features of the King non-invasively, understand the mummification style early in the 18th Dynasty, and the reburial intervention style by 21st Dynasty embalmers. This study may make us gain confidence in the goodwill of the reburial project of the Royal mummies by the 21st dynasty priests.
... We recorded the following for each foreign object/amulet within the mummy and its wrappings: its location within the mummy, metric measurements, shape, and CT densities value in Hounsfield units (HU) (14). We suggested the material of the object/amulet by its CT density (HU). ...
... However, the cost of materials for amulets placed during mummification was determined by the deceased's socio-economic status (1). CT can help determine the material of an amulet by measuring its density (14). Thirty amulets in the studied mummy were made of metal, accounting of 61% of the total number of amulets. ...
Article
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Ancient Egyptian mummies represent an opportunity to learn more about the health, beliefs, and skills of humans in antiquity. A fully wrapped mummy, from a Late Ptolemaic cemetery (c.332-30 BC) in Edfu, Egypt, has been stored, unexamined, at the Cairo Egyptian Museum since 1916. We hypothesized that scanning and 3D-printing the mummy using Computed Tomography (CT) could help in documenting and promoting its public display. CT enabled non-invasive digital unwrapping and revealed a well-preserved mummy. Biological sex could be determined from the presence of male genitalia; epiphyseal fusion and tooth eruption indicated an approximate age at death of 14–15 years. The deceased had healthy teeth and bones without evidence of poor nutrition or disease. CT detected a high-quality mummification process that included brain removal through an iatrogenic defect of the cribriform plate and viscera removal via a left lower-abdominal incision. The heart remained in the chest as a spiritual symbol. Resin was poured into the emptied cranial and torso cavities, and linen packs were placed inside the torso. The Mummy’s external ornamentation includes a gilded head mask, a pectoral cartonnage, and a pair of sandals. CT identified 49 amulets inside the mummy and between the wrappings, arranged in three columns. The amulets have 21 different shapes, including Udjat, scarabs, Ajet, Djed-pillar, Tyt, Placenta, Double-Plume, and Right-angle. CT densities indicated that 30 (61%) amulets were metal (likely gold), and the other amulets were made of faience, stones, or fired clay. The embalmers placed amulets to protect and provide vitality for the body for the afterlife. A gold tongue amulet was placed inside the mouth to ensure the deceased could speak in the afterlife. A Two-finger amulet was placed beside the penis to protect the embalming incision. 3D-printing enabled the tactile and visual study of a heart scarab found inside the thoracic cavity. Findings from this study suggest that ancient Egyptians valued their children and provided them with ritual treatment. State-of-the-art techniques such as CT and 3D printing provided valuable insights and supported the museum display of the mummy, nicknamed “The Golden Boy.”
... Metals were characterized by its high attenuation value (greater than 2978 HU) ( Boas and Fleischmann, 2011;Saleem and Hawass, 2014). The attenuation values and standard deviation (SD) of different points throughout the coffin wall thickness and the inner core materials were measured. ...
... The attenuation values and standard deviation (SD) of different points throughout the coffin wall thickness and the inner core materials were measured. The attenuation values were measured by placing regions of interest (ROIs) in three different arbitrary points which used in calculation the attenuation mean (Saleem and Hawass, 2014), the used ROIs approximately 5 mm 2 (see Table 1). The standard deviation (SD) was measured and compared with known reference materials ( Gostner et al., 2013). ...
... The identity of subcutaneous material was suggested by correlating its CT appearance with what is written in the literature. [12][13][14][15] The chemical nature of the filling substances of the subcutaneous packs was not tested in this study. ...
... However, the CT appearance and measurement of density in Hounsfield units of an unknown substance can help to identify its chemical components. [13][14][15][16][17] Computed tomographic images showed variation in homogeneity and densities of the subcutaneous packing in the studied mummies; these included filling substances with homogeneous moderate CT density likely representing resin. This finding is concordant with laboratory analysis of a sample of the subcutaneous packing material that was taken from the left arm of Amenhotep III at the beginning of the last century; the sample consisted of resin, natron (mixture of carbonate, sulfate, and chloride of sodium), and other inorganic matter. ...
Article
It has been widely disseminated in the literature that subcutaneous packing, as part of mummification, was not usually done until the 21st dynasty. We aimed to study by computed tomography (CT) if subcutaneous packing was part of mummification of royal Egyptians dated to 18th to 20th dynasties. We analyzed the 2- and 3-dimensional CT images of 13 royal mummies dated to circa 1550 to 1153 BC for presence of subcutaneous embalming materials. Among the studied mummies were Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramesses II. We reported the CT characters of any detected subcutaneous embalming materials and noted their impact on the morphology of the involved body part. We correlated the CT findings with the archeological literature. Computed tomographic images showed subcutaneous packing in 12 (92.3%) mummies; whereas the mummy that was previously known as "Thutmose I" showed no such evidence. Subcutaneous packing involved the faces (n = 11), necks (n = 4), torsos (n = 5), and/or extremities (n = 4) of the mummies. Subcutaneous filling materials showed variation in homogeneity and CT densities and they were likely composed of resin, bits of linen with resin, or other substances. Subcutaneous packing procedure succeeded in providing uniform full contour of the involved body regions without causing significant tissue damages. Subcutaneous packing procedure was used as part of mummification of royal Ancient Egyptians dated to 18th to 20th dynasties earlier than what was believed in archaeology. The Ancient Egyptian embalmers must have been skilled in dissection and possessed surgical tools that enabled them to perform this fine procedure.
... To acquire high-quality imaging, the MSCT device has to fulfil minimal technical characteristics, such as the spatial resolution of 25 lp/mm (line pair per millimetre) and the possibility of archiving raw data. Multidetector computed tomography offers a detailed noninvasive analysis of objects on/in the mummies with 3D imaging and it is frequently used in the study of mummies (Saleem & Hawass, 2014;Davey et al., 2013;Panzer et al., 2013b;Dedouit et al., 2010;Jackowski et al., 2008). MSCT provides a reconstruction of the axial tomographic plane using a computer by multiple measurements from several hundred projections during a single rotation of 360º. ...
Article
The virtual autopsy and post-mortem imaging methods are relatively novel methods used in medicine to determine cause and manner of death. They can also be exceptionally useful in the process of identification. Although they have numerous advantages, they are still not implemented in practice to a sufficient extent because the methodology has not yet been validated, and studies that deal with legal and practical implications of those methods are relatively scarce. In this article we describe basic principles and advantages of the methodology, explore related legal and practical issues, and present a case of virtual autopsy in practice on the mummified remains of St. Ivan Olini from Church of St. Blaise in Vodnjan (Croatia).Virtualna obdukcija in postmortalna metoda slikanja sta relativno novi metodi v medicini za ugotovljanje vzroka in načina smrti. Izjemno koristni sta lahko tudi v procesu identifikacije. Kljub številnim prednostim pa se v praksi še vedno ne izvajata v zadovoljivem obsegu, ker metodologija še ni potrjena, študije, ki se ukvarjajo s pravnimi in praktičnimi posledicami teh metod, pa so redke. V tem članku so opisana temeljna načela in prednosti metodologije, preučevana so pravna in praktična vprašanja ter predstavljen primer virtualne obdukcije v praksi na mumificiranih ostankih sv. Ivana Olinija iz cerkve sv. Blaža v Vodnjanu (Hrvaška).
... This is a snake-shaped object that was found between Sensaos' (Leiden) upper legs under the bandages. Although several amulets that were found under the wrappings of other Egyptian mummies have been described in the literature, 22 to our knowledge, this is the first evidence of such a knife-type object discovered in a child mummy. ...
Article
Objective: The objective of our work was to report the most recent findings obtained with multidetector computed tomography of a child mummy from the Roman period (119-123 CE) housed at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy. Methods: Multidetector computed tomography and postprocessing were applied to understand the embalming techniques, the nature of a foreign object, and anthropometrical values. The information was compared with that from other mummies that were buried in the same tomb, but today housed in different museums. Results: New information regarding the embalming technique was revealed. Multidetector computed tomography allowed the identification of a knife-like metallic object, probably an amulet for the child's protection in the afterlife. Conclusions: Multidetector computed tomography and image postprocessing confirm their valuable role in noninvasive studies in ancient mummies and provided evidence of a unique cultural practice in the late history of Ancient Egypt such as placing a knife possibly as an amulet.
... Literature refers that in some cases the mummies may contain magnetic object as amulets and jewelry constituted by metallic materials [58]. Moreover, metal could be employed in the embalming practice [59]. ...
Article
Nondestructive diagnostic imaging for mummies study has a long tradition and high-resolution images of the samples morphology have been extensively acquired by using computed tomography (CT). However, although in early reports no signal or image was obtained because of the low water content, mummy Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was demonstrated able to generate images of such ancient specimens by using fast imaging techniques. Literature demonstrated the general feasibility of nonclinical MRI for visualising historic human tissues, which is particularly interesting for archeology. More recently, multinuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) was demonstrated able to detect numerous organic biochemicals from such remains. Although the quality of these images is not yet comparable to that of clinical Magnetic Resonance (MR) images, and further research will be needed for determining the full capacity of MR in this topic, the information obtained with MR can be viewed as complementary to the one provided by CT and useful for paleoradiological studies of mummies. This work contains an overview of the state-of-art of the emerging uses of MRI in paleoradiology.
... We will consider evidence for incisions, stuffi ng materials and cavity packing, along with the inclusion of amulets and adornments, which may be present within the wrappings. Emphasis shall be put on any variability observed in mortuary treatment, comparing our data to those published in the literature (10,14,18). Th e application of radiological techniques to mummifi ed materials enables an insight into the contents of wrapped bundles and within preserved bodies themselves without the need to disrupt their integrity. ...
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Among the collections belonging to the National Museum of Lithuania at Vilnius, resides an ancient Egyptian coffin containing a mummified human body. The coffin and its occupant are believed to have belonged to the King of Poland and to have been located in his palace at Warsaw. At the turn of the last century, Egyptologists dated the coffin to the end of the 21st dynasty (1070 BC-945 BC), and described the item as coming from Thebes, belonging to Hori, priest of Amun-Ra. However, no investigation was ever carried out on the human body associated with the coffin. Within the framework of the Lithuanian Mummy Project, the preserved human remains underwent computed tomographic investigation in order to reconstruct the biological profile of the subject and to determine the embalming method employed. This led to the identification of a young adult male. Additionally, the mummy shroud was stylistically assessed in order to determine the mummy's chronology in Egyptian history. Interestingly, the body could be ascribed to the Roman period of Egypt (30 BC-395 AD) due to analogies with the burial shrouds of the Soter group. This indicates a reuse of the coffin at some point in history.
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ABSTRACT : OBJECTIVE. The objective of our study was to use MDCT to study brain treatment and removal (excerebration) as part of mummification of royal Egyptian mummies dated to the 18th to early 20th Dynasties and to correlate the imaging findings with the archaeologic literature. MATERIALS AND METHODS. As part of an MDCT study of the Royal Ancient Egyptian Mummies Project, we analyzed CT images of the heads of 12 mummies dated to circa 1493–1156 BC (18th to early 20th Dynasties). We reconstructed and analyzed CT images for the presence of cranial defects, brain remnants, intracranial embalming materials, and nasal packs. We compared the CT findings of mummies dated to the 18th Dynasty with those dated to the 19th to early 20th Dynasties. RESULTS. The Akhenaten mummy was excluded because of extensive postmortem skull fractures. CT showed that no brain treatment was offered to three mummies (Thutmose I, II, and III) who dated to the early 18th Dynasty and was offered to the eight mummies who dated later. The route of excerebration was transnasal in eight mummies; an additional suspected route was via a parietal defect. CT showed variable appearances of the intracranial contents. There were larger volumes of cranial packs and more variability in the appearances of the cranial packs in the royal mummies dated to the 19th to 20th Dynasties than in those dated to the 18th Dynasty. CONCLUSION. MDCT shows variations in brain treatment during mummification of royal Egyptian mummies (18th–20th Dynasties). This study sets a template for future CT studies of the heads of ancient Egyptian mummies and focuses on the key elements of cranial mummification in this ancient era. Read More: http://www.ajronline.org/doi/abs/10.2214/AJR.12.9405
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Howard Carter (1874–1939) was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist, now renowned for discovering the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. Published between 1923 and 1933, this three-volume study contains Carter's detailed account of the sensational discovery, excavation and clearance of Tutankhamun's tomb and its treasures. The tomb was almost fully intact when discovered and remains the most complete burial discovered in the Valley of the Kings. Each volume of Carter's book is richly illustrated with over 100 photographs of the tomb and objects found in it, showing their original state and how they appeared after reconstruction. Carter's meticulous recording and conservation techniques are faithfully documented in his account, providing a vivid and engaging description of the work which occurred during the excavation of this famous site. Volume 3 describes the recording and conservation of objects in the Treasury and Annexe rooms and puts forward Carter's interpretation of their use.
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Traditional x-ray images of mummies may reveal foreign objects lodged within the body or its wrappings, but can only give a vague idea of the material of which these objects consist. More precise information may be obtained by means of computed tomography which delivers not only a three-dimensional reconstruction of the object's shape, but also a measurement of radiodensity and a representation of the radiological structure.While the density values and structures of body tissues and substances are well documented in radiological publications, little data exist of material not usually found in the human body. The aim of this study is to analyse the radiological density and structure of a series of test objects, so that these may serve as a reference for comparison with potential foreign objects found in mummified remains. Value and limitations of this method are discussed and the practical application is demonstrated through four examples.
Article
To evaluate two methods for reducing metal artifacts in computed tomography (CT)--the metal deletion technique (MDT) and the selective algebraic reconstruction technique (SART)--and compare these methods with filtered back projection (FBP) and linear interpolation (LI). The institutional review board approved this retrospective HIPAA-compliant study; informed patient consent was waived. Simulated projection data were calculated for a phantom that contained water, soft tissue, bone, and iron. Clinical projection data were obtained retrospectively from 11 consecutively identified CT scans with metal streak artifacts, with a total of 178 sections containing metal. Each scan was reconstructed using FBP, LI, SART, and MDT. The simulated scans were evaluated quantitatively by calculating the average error in Hounsfield units for each pixel compared with the original phantom. Two radiologists who were blinded to the reconstruction algorithms used qualitatively evaluated the clinical scans, ranking the overall severity of artifacts for each algorithm. P values for comparisons of the image quality ranks were calculated from the binomial distribution. The simulations showed that MDT reduces artifacts due to photon starvation, beam hardening, and motion and does not introduce new streaks between metal and bone. MDT had the lowest average error (76% less than FBP, 42% less than LI, 17% less than SART). Blinded comparison of the clinical scans revealed that MDT had the best image quality 100% of the time (95% confidence interval: 72%, 100%). LI had the second best image quality, and SART and FBP had the worst image quality. On images from two CT scans, as compared with images generated by the scanner, MDT revealed information of potential clinical importance. For a wide range of scans, MDT yields reduced metal streak artifacts and better-quality images than does FBP, LI, or SART. http://radiology.rsna.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1148/radiol.11101782/-/DC1.
Article
CT is an indispensable imaging tool in the evaluation of Egyptian mummies because it can noninvasively generate large amounts of data. We applied current CT imaging and postprocessing techniques to methodically survey the head and skull base features of nine Egyptian mummies in the hope of providing paleopathologic and radiologic information. Nine Egyptian mummies were evaluated on helical CT using 1-mm axial scans obtained from the skull vertex to the mid cervical spine. Systematic evaluation of the skull and intracranial contents, paranasal sinuses, craniocervical junction, orbits, temporal bones including the middle and inner ears, teeth, and superficial soft tissues was undertaken. Reformatted and volume-rendered images were generated. CT findings indicated that the intracranial contents of the nine mummies varied tremendously. Destruction of the anterior skull base structures in mummies without intracranial contents suggested a transnasal, transethmoidal approach to excerebration. A large amount of expensive embalming material within the skull of one mummy suggests that he may have been a royal pharoah. A cleft palate deformity was identified in a child mummy. Temporal bone analysis revealed one case of asymmetric mastoid air cell erosion and dehiscence, which is strongly suggestive of prior mastoiditis. Craniocervical junction abnormalities and ossicular chain disruption in several mummies were attributed to postmortem damage. The orbital structures had intentionally been removed in several mummies. Dental disease was ubiquitous among the adult specimens. CONCLUSION. The systematic evaluation of the head and skull base of mummies with CT can provide insight into the life, disease, death, and postmortem treatment of these ancient Egyptians.
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