Friday, February 13th, 2009
The mummy has been at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute since 1920, safely ensconced in a beautifully decorated sarcophagus. They couldn’t open it without destroying it, so the mummy has never been seen.
Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, now we can all see it in astonishing detail.
The mummy was discovered in Luxor, Egypt, and sold to the Oriental Institute in 1920.
Teeter said the coffin, painted and carved to look like the figure of a beautiful woman, is an archeological marvel. She said singers who served in Egyptian temples were traditionally young, beautiful women from high-ranking families.
Hieroglyphs on the front of the coffin tell researchers more about the mummy’s life. The woman’s name was Meresamun, which means “Amun Loves Her,” and she was a singer in the temple of the Egyptian god Amun.
CT scans are often used to view mummies, but most of them are not in pristine condition. Researchers, grave robbers and hobbyists have messed with them over the centuries.
This case is remarkable because the casket has been sealed shut for 2800 years, so Meresamun has all kinds of secrets to share.
Her cause of death is not one of them, however. It was most likely some kind of infectious disease, because there is no visible trauma. She was about 30 when she died, and her skeleton suggests she was healthy until right before she died.
Check out this footage of the CT scan with commentary by University of Chicago Medical Center radiologist Dr. Michael Vannier. I can’t embed it ’cause they’re meanies, but believe me it’s well worth a click.