A mummy teenager with a heart of gold has been ‘digitally unraveled’ some 2,300 years after he was buried.
CT scans examined of the boy’s undisturbed remains, estimated to be 14 or 15 at the time of his death, revealed his family’s efforts to ensure his safe passage into the afterlife.
The ancient Egyptians believed that when people died, their souls made a dangerous journey into the underworld, where their character would be judged.
To ensure a positive outcome, a place in the afterlife, this particular teenager was buried with 49 amulets – including the golden scarab on which his heart rests and the golden tongue in his mouth.
The mummy dates back to the Ptolemaic period, when Egypt was ruled by the dynasty of the same name.
He was discovered during World War I in the burial ground of Nag el-Hassay in southern Egypt, used from approximately 332 BC to 30 BC, but has remained unexamined until now in the crypt of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
As a result of the new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, the mummy was moved to the main exhibition hall under the moniker “Golden Boy”.
How was the boy buried?
Not only is the mummy adorned with 49 amulets reflecting his high status, he also wears a gilded mask, a pectoral on his chest and a pair of sandals on his feet.
“The sandals were probably designed to allow boys to come out of the coffin,” said Dr. Sahar Salim, professor of medicine at Cairo University and lead author of the study.
“According to the ancient Egyptian ritual Book of the Dead, the deceased had to wear white sandals in order to remain reverent and clean before reciting his verses.”
The mummy was placed in two coffins – the inner coffin was made of wood, while the outer coffin had Greek inscriptions on it.
He is surrounded by ferns, an ancient Egyptian tradition.
“The ancient Egyptians were fascinated by plants and flowers and believed them to be sacred and symbolic,” Dr Saleem said.
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As well as having his heart removed, the boy also had his brain removed from his nose.
But it was replaced by resin, not any gold.
However, his teeth are in good condition with no signs of disease or cavities.
Researchers were unable to determine a cause of death other than natural causes.