Mummy of Egyptian child was buried with a ‘second heart’ made of gold

Mummy of Egyptian child was buried with a ‘second heart’ made of gold

X-rays have been used to digitally unwrap the mummy of a teenager dating back some 2,300 years, revealing 49 precious protective amulets, including a gold scarab representing the heart.

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24 January 2023

The mummy of a child digitally unwrapped in four stages

The mummy of a child digitally unwrapped in four stages

SN Saleem, SA Seddik, Mel-Halwagy

Digital scans of an Egyptian mummy have revealed a teenager buried with a “second heart” made of gold, as well as dozens of other amulets that ancient Egyptians believed were important to the afterlife.

The mummy, which has remained intact in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo since 1916, dates to around 300 BC. C. in the Ptolemaic period.

Sahar Saleem, from Cairo University, digitally unwrapped the small gold-covered mummy with computed tomography (CT), which involved using hundreds of high-resolution X-ray images to show the skeleton and soft tissue, and reveal 49 charms of 21 different types.

In addition to finding a 3-centimeter golden scarab in the mummy’s chest cavity, symbolizing a heart, Saleem and his team discovered a golden tongue inside the mouth area of ​​the skull, a two-fingered amulet next to the mark embalming incision on the left thigh, and other religious amulets made of gold, semi-precious stones and brightly colored ceramics.

The boy’s own heart remained in the chest, as a spiritual symbol, the researchers say, as was customary for Egyptian mummies.

The amulets were supposed to have protective properties for the arduous journey to the afterlife that the Egyptians believed came after death. “The boy’s family offered him a very expensive level of embalming treatment to be properly prepared and equipped for the underground journey to reach the afterlife safely,” Saleem says, such as sandals to get out of the coffin and a golden tongue to speak. with.

Amulets were placed on or inside the mummy in three columns, including a heart scarab.

Amulets were placed on or inside the mummy in three columns, including a heart scarab.

SN Saleem, SA Seddik, Mel-Halwagy

The researchers used the CT scans to 3D print a reconstruction of the heart of gold. “The large gold heart scarab charm is truly amazing, especially after I printed it and was able to hold it in my hands,” Saleem says. “There were etched markings on the back of the 3D-printed amulet that could represent inscriptions and spells.”

These inscriptions seemed to include verses from the Egyptian Book of the Deadwhich establishes that the heart beetle is needed to silence the heart when judged by the gods on the way to the afterlife.

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