2,300-year-old “Golden Boy” mummy digitally unwrapped after a century

2,300-year-old “Golden Boy” mummy digitally unwrapped after a century

The mummified remains of a teenager, stored unexamined at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for over a century, have been digitally unpacked for the first time, revealing a surplus of amulets and plants adorning his body.

In a study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, researchers reveal that the unnamed teenager, aged just 14 or 15, died in a pair of white sandals. They used a computed tomography scan, which allows digital reconstructions of bones, blood vessels, soft tissues and more via X-rays, to look inside the coffin.

“Here we show that the body of this mummy was extensively decorated with 49 amulets, beautifully stylized in a unique arrangement of three columns between the folds of the wrappings and in the body cavity of the mummy,” noted Sahar Saleem, a radiologist at Cairo University, Egypt . and first author on the paper. They named the mummy “Golden Boy”.

Saleem notes that Golden Boy’s adornments correspond to some of the rituals described in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, including the sandals. He was adorned with three columns of amulets between the folds of his draperies, including items such as the Eye of Horus – a scarab in his chest and a two-fingered amulet next to his penis. Many of the ornaments were made of gold.

All of his organs except his heart had been removed, and the scans showed he also had immaculate teeth.

Golden Boy’s coffin was first discovered in 1916 in a necropolis in Nag el Hassaya, the cemetery of the city of Edfu. The boy lived between about 330 and 30 BC during the Ptolemaic period. and probably had a high status. His cause of death is unknown, but there was no evidence it was unnatural.

Saleem and her colleagues had previously digitally unpacked the mummy of Amenhotep I back in 2021 and was responsible for discovering a knife wound in Ramses III’s neck as well as a missing toe, suggesting he was murdered by a gang of assassins.

The Egyptians believed that life does not end with death. Instead, there was life after death. The process of mummification and the inlaying of ornaments, amulets, and plants was intended to help the spirit of the dead navigate the afterlife. Golden Boy provides further evidence of burial rituals and the importance of these ornaments during the boy’s life in the Ptolemaic period.

The research led to the Egyptian Museum moving Golden Boy from the basement to its main exhibition hall, where it is now on display.

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