LONDON - CAIRO -- Modern technology helped scientists to unwrap the mystery of the 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummy in what a renowned Egyptologist called an “important milestone.”
The mummy from Amenhotep I, the ruler of Egypt from 1525 to 1504 B.C., was discovered in 1881 in the ancient city of Thebes -- modern-day Luxor — located on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt. During the 16th–11th centuries B.C. the city served as the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power.
The mummy had remained untouched since it was discovered though, simply because archaeologists believed it was too perfectly preserved to risk causing any damage to it. The remains are covered with a funerary mask and garlands of colorful flowers.
But Egyptian scientists were able to use non-invasive, three-dimensional computerized tomography (CT) scanning to reveal the secrets of Amenhotep I.
"It's the first time modern technology allows us to know the secrets of a mummy whose face was hidden beneath the wraps for 3,000 years," Zahi Hawass, co-author of the study that was published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, told ABC News.
Unlike the majority of mummies, in which brains are removed, scientists discovered the brain intact.
"In the past, people used to remove linens from the head and chest of the king, and this cause significant damage,” Hawass said, explaining why findings of this discovery are very important. “We were able to uncover the mummy's secrets without touching it,” he added.
Thirty amulets, including some made from gold, as well as 34 gold beads were found in the mummy. That suggests that contrary to belief that priests of later dynasties had transferred the remains to steal them, the study suggests the priests of the 21st and 22nd dynasties had indeed preserved the mummies.
Scientists also discovered that Amenhotep I bore a resemblance to his father, Ahmose I, the founder of the New Kingdom who is best known for fighting Hyksos, --rulers of foreign lands-- the Palestinian origin dynasty that ruled northern Egypt from 1630 to 1523 B.C.
The CT images suggest he was not suffering from any diseases or injuries that might have caused his death, which the study says happened when he was 35.
Amenhotep I's mummy was part of what was dubbed a "royal procession" that was held last April to transfer 22 mummies from the 120-year-old Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in the old Islamic city of Fustat.