Incredibly detailed CT scan (CT scans) of the so-called “Golden Child”, mummy from ancient Egypt have revealed a hidden treasure of 49 amulets, many of which were made of gold.
The young mummy earned its nickname due to the dazzling display of wealth, which included a golden head mask found in the mummy’s sarcophagus. Investigators believe that she was about 14 or 15 years old when she died because her wisdom teeth had not yet erupted.
The Golden Boy was originally discovered in 1916 in a cemetery in southern Egypt and has been stored in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo ever since. The mummy had been “placed inside two coffins, an outer coffin with a Greek inscription and an inner wooden sarcophagus,” according to a declaration (opens in a new tab).
While analyzing the scans, the investigators found that the dozens of charms, made up of 21 different shapes and sizes, were strategically placed on or within her body.
Those included “a two-fingered amulet next to the [boy’s] uncircumcised penis golden heart beetle placed inside the chest cavity and a golden tongue inside the mouth,” according to the statement.
Related: Ancient Egyptian mummification was never intended to preserve bodies, new exhibit reveals
The mummy was also wearing a pair of sandals, and a garland of ferns draped her body, according to the statement.
“This mummy is a sample of Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife during the Ptolemaic period.” sahar saleem (opens in a new tab)the study’s lead author and a professor of radiology at Cairo University School of Medicine in Egypt told Live Science in an email.
While the researchers aren’t sure of the mummy’s true identity, based solely on grave goods, they believe it was of high socioeconomic status.
Amulets played important roles in the afterlife.
“ancient egyptians he believed in the power of amulets…and they were used to protect and provide specific benefits to the living and the dead,” Saleem said. “In modern science, this is explained by energy. Different materials, shapes, and colors (for example, crystals) provide energy with different wavelengths that could have [an] effect on the body. The ancient Egyptians used amulets in their lives. The embalmers placed amulets during mummification to vitalize the corpse.”
For example, the adolescent mummy’s tongue was overlaid with gold “to allow the deceased to speak” and the sandals “were to allow the deceased to exit the tomb in the [afterlife]Salem said.
However, one amulet in particular caught Saleem’s eye: the golden heart scarab placed inside the torso cavity. He ended up creating a replica using a 3D printer.
“It was really amazing, especially after I 3D printed [it] and I was able to hold it in my hands,” Saleem said. “There were etched markings on the back that could represent the inscriptions and spells that the priests wrote to protect the boy during his journey. Scarabs symbolize rebirth in the ancient Egyptians and [were] in the form of a discoid (disk-shaped) beetle”.
He added that the heart beetle measured around 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) and was inscribed with lines of “The book of the dead“, an important ancient Egyptian text that helped guide the deceased in the afterlife.
“It was very important in the afterlife during the judgment of the deceased and the weighing of the heart against the feather of Maat (the goddess of truth),” said Saleem. “The heart beetle silenced the heart [on] on the day of the trial so as not to testify against the deceased. A heart beetle was placed inside the torso cavity during mummification to substitute for the heart if the body were ever deprived. [of] this important body for whatever reason.
The findings were published Jan. 24 in the journal frontiers of medicine (opens in a new tab).