January 30, 2023

Mummified ‘golden boy’ found covered in 49 precious amulets

4 min read


(CNN) — When a teenage boy died in Egypt 2,300 years ago, he was mummified and adorned with 49 protective amulets and a golden mask to guide him into the afterlife.

Researchers discovered amulets placed on and inside the body of the mummified “Golden Boy” when they used a computerized tomography scan to digitally open the remains without disturbing them.

The remains were first recovered in 1916 from a cemetery called Nag al-Hasay, which was used in southern Egypt between about 332 BC and 30 BC. Thousands of preserved bodies, many in their original coffins, were exhumed in Egypt in the 19th and early 20th centuries before being transferred to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Like many others, the mummy was not examined upon its discovery and was moved to the basement of a museum.

CT scans were used to virtually unravel the mummified remains.

CT scans were used to virtually unravel the mummified remains.

Courtesy of Frontiers Press

Although researchers are interested in learning more about ancient human health, as well as the death rituals and beliefs of ancient Egyptians, wrapping mummified remains is a destructive process. In recent years, researchers have used CT scans to peer beneath the wrappings, leaving the bodies completely intact.

The golden boy’s remains were enshrined in two nested coffins. The outer sarcophagus was plain and inscribed with Greek characters, while the inner one had wooden sarcophagus designs and a golden face.

When the researchers scanned the mummy, they saw 49 amulets with 21 different designs, including a golden tongue inside the mouth and a golden heart scarab on the chest, which the ancient Egyptians believed represented death. can help with the transition to the afterlife.

The youth, believed to be between 14 and 15 years old, also wore a golden head mask encrusted with stones and a protective cloak known as cartonage on his torso. All of his organs except his heart were removed and his brain was replaced with resin.

A journey to the hereafter

The ancient Egyptians believed that there was another life after death, but reaching the afterlife required a perilous journey through the underworld. Embalmers took care to prepare bodies for the route, and the Golden Boy was well-equipped for the journey, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal. Frontiers in Medicine.
The scanning revealed the face of the golden boy, which has not been seen for 2,300 years.

The scanning revealed the face of the golden boy, which has not been seen for 2,300 years.

Courtesy of Frontiers Press

“Here we show that the body of this mummy was richly decorated with 49 amulets, beautifully styled in a unique arrangement of three columns between the layers of wrapping and within the body cavity of the mummy. These include the Eye of Horus, scarabs, amulets of the horizon, the navel, the knot of Isis, and others. Many were made of gold, while some were made of semi-precious stones, fired clay, or fennel. “Their purpose was to protect the body and give it life in the afterlife,” study author Dr. Sahar Salim, a professor at Cairo University’s Faculty of Medicine, said in a statement.

His feet were covered with white sandals, while his body was draped with ferns.

The mummy was found wearing sandals.

The mummy was found wearing sandals.

Courtesy of Frontiers Press

“The purpose of the sandals was probably to enable the boy to get out of the coffin,” Salim said. Had to wear sandals.” “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 the time of burial.”

Although the scans did not shed light on his cause of death, they did show that the boy was 4.2 feet (128 cm) tall and had an oval-shaped face with a pointed nose and narrow chin.

His identity remains unknown, but his good dental hygiene, the high quality of his mummification, and the amulets suggest that he was of high socioeconomic status.

Amulets were placed on the body and kept inside it.

Amulets were placed on the body and kept inside it.

Courtesy of Frontiers Press

A golden tongue was placed in the boy’s mouth to help him speak later in life. An Isis Knot amulet indicates that the goddess Isis will protect her body. Falcon and ostrich amulets represented the spiritual and material aspects of life.

A two-fingered amulet, shaped like the index and middle fingers of the right hand, was found in his lower torso to protect his scarred incision. And the golden scarab beetle was thought to aid in the difficult underworld.

A golden scarab beetle amulet was found inside the chest cavity.

A golden scarab beetle amulet was found inside the chest cavity.

Courtesy of Frontiers Press

“The heart scarab is mentioned in Chapter 30 of the Book of the Dead: it was important in the afterlife for judging the deceased and weighing the heart against the feather of the goddess Mat,” Salem said. “The heart scarab silenced the heart on Judgment Day, so that it would not testify against the deceased. It was placed inside the torso cavity during mummification to replace the heart if the body ever lost that organ. Take it.”

By collecting data using CT scans, the researchers were able to 3D print a copy of the scarab’s heart.

The Golden Boy has been moved to the Egyptian Museum’s main exhibition hall and will be surrounded by CT images and a copy of the heart scarab to provide further insight into the mummification process and ancient Egyptian death rituals. can go.

“The purpose of the display was to humanize this individual from the past to teach modern people about life in ancient times,” the researchers wrote in the study.



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