The mummy of the now called ‘golden child‘ was found in 1916 in a cemetery used approximately between 332 and 30 BC. C. in Nag el-Hassay, south of Egypt. Since then it has been stored unexamined in the basement of the Cairo Egyptian Museum.
Recently, a team of Egyptian scientists has used the computed tomography (a kind of CT), to ‘digitally unwrap’ this mummy, dated to about 2,300 years old and belonging to an adolescent of high socioeconomic status. The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicinereveal that the body has almost 50 amulets of various types.
The mummy was deposited inside two coffins, one exterior with a Greek inscription and another interior made of wood. Inside it has a golden head mask, a pectoral carton that covers the front part of the torso and a pair of sandals. In addition to the heart, the viscera were once removed through an incision in the groin, as well as the brain through the nose, to be later replaced by resin.
The wooden coffin, with colored drawings in the late Ptolemaic style (above) and the ‘digitally unwrapped’ mummy in four stages. / S.N. SALEEM
The ancient Egyptians believed that when we died, our spiritual body sought a Life after death similar to that of this world. But entry into that afterlife was not guaranteed: it first required a perilous journey through the underworld, followed by an individual final judgment. For this reason, relatives and embalmers did everything possible so that their loved one reached a happy destination.
The body of this mummy was decorated with 49 amulets, in a unique arrangement of three columns between the folds of the wrappings and within the body cavity.
Sahar Saleem (Cairo University)
“Here we show that the body of this mummy was decorated with 49 amulets, in a unique three-column arrangement between the folds of the sheaths and within the body cavity. Among them are the eye of Horus, the scarab, the akhet amulet, the Isis knot and others. Many were made of gold, others of semi-precious stones, baked clay or earthenware. Its purpose was to protect the body and give it vitality in the afterlife,” explains Sahar Saleemfirst author of the study and professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University.
Without coming out the wisdom teeth
Scans showed that the child he was 128cm tall, was not circumcised and, despite his youth, no cause of death other than natural has been identified. Based on the degree of bone fusion and the absence of eruption of the wisdom teeth, the authors estimate that the child had between 14 and 15 years. Her teeth were in good condition, with no evidence of decay, tooth loss, or periodontal disease.
The mummy’s face in the tomographies and detail of its good teeth (with unerupted wisdom teeth). / S.N. SALEEM
Regarding the amulets, they are testimony to a wide range of Egyptian beliefs. For example, a golden foil of tongue was placed inside the mouth to ensure that the child could speak in the afterlife, while a two finger amulet it is located next to the uncircumcised penis to protect the embalming incision. The Isis knot invoked the power of this goddess to preserve her body.
There is also a right angle amulet, which provided balance and leveling, and double falcon and ostrich plumes that represented the duality of spiritual and material life.
Beetle to silence the heart
Inside the thoracic cavity, a golden beetleof which the researchers 3D printed a copy.
Example of a heart beetle and 3D print of the gold one identified in the mummy’s chest cavity. / WLA brooklynmuseum/SN SALEEM
“The heart beetle is mentioned in chapter 30 of the Book of the Dead: was important in the afterlife during the judgment of the deceased and the weighing of the heart against the feather of the goddess Maat. The heart beetle silenced the heart on Judgment Day, so that it would not bear witness against the deceased. It was placed inside the torso cavity during mummification to replace the heart if the body ran out of this organ”, details the researcher.
The heart beetle is mentioned in chapter 30 of the Book of the Dead: it was important in the afterlife during the trial of the deceased and the weighing of the heart against the feather of the goddess Maat
Sahar Saleem (Cairo University)
In addition, around the outer surface of the mummy was a fern wreath. “The ancient Egyptians were fascinated by plants and flowers and believed they had sacred and symbolic effects. Bouquets of plants and flowers were placed next to the deceased at burial, and plants were also offered to the deceased at each visit to the dead. during the holidays,” says Saleem.
Sandals to walk to the afterlife
“And regarding the sandals –he concludes–, probably, they were used so that the child could get out of the coffin. According to the Egyptian ritual of Book of the Deadthe deceased had to wear white sandals to be clean and pious before reciting his verses”.
3D CT scan image of the mummy’s sandal. / SN SALEEM et al./Front. Med.
In view of these exciting results, the management of the Egyptian Museum decided to move this mummy to the main exhibition hall with the nickname ‘Golden Child’.
In its new location, visitors can admire it alongside CT scan images and a 3D-printed version of the heart scarab amulet, getting as close as possible to the glories of ancient Egyptian civilization.
New findings: mummy covered in gold leaf
In addition to the publication on the child’s mummy, much more recent findings on Ancient Egypt have been released this month. An excavation team from that country has reported the discovery of a sarcophagus intact containing a mummy covered in gold leaf.
It has been found in a pozo 15 meters deep in the area of Gisr el Mudir, in the necropolis of Saqqara located south of Cairo.
An Egyptian archaeologist works after the announcement of the new discoveries at Gisr el-Mudir in Saqqara, Giza, Egypt. / EFE/EPA/Mohamed Hossam ElDin
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities published the news on its Facebook profile, where it explained that it is “a large rectangular sarcophagus of limestonebelonging to a man named Heka-Shepes“.
The team also located another pit, about 10 meters deep, which contained a group of wooden statues and three stone statues representing a person called Fet. Next to these statues they discovered an offering table and a stone sarcophagus containing his mummy.
An intact sarcophagus with an Egyptian mummy covered in gold leaf was recently found inside a well.
The director of the excavation team working with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawasspointed out that it is an important archaeological discovery that dates from the 5th and 6th dynasties of the Old Kingdomto which is added the discovery of numerous tombs.
According to Hawass, “the most important tomb belonged to Khnum-djed-ef, who was priest in the pyramid complex of Unasthe second most relevant belonged to Meri, and another to a priest of the pyramidal complex of King Pepi I, probably named Messiwhich contained nine beautiful statues”.
In addition, the mission has discovered various stone vessels, tools for daily life, statues of deities and ceramics, as well as numerous amuletsas in the case of the ‘Golden Child’.
Statues discovered at Gisr el-Mudir in Saqqara, Giza, Egypt, where major archaeological discoveries dating to the fifth and sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom were announced this January. / EFE/EPA/Mohamed Hossam ElDin