Category Archives: EGYPT

Digital Scans Reveal Secrets of ‘Golden Boy’ Mummy

Digital Scans Reveal Secrets of ‘Golden Boy’ Mummy

The teenage mummy’s body was covered in ferns, amulets and a gilded face mask, earning it the name “Golden Boy.”

Incredibly detailed computed tomography (CT scans) of the so-called “Golden Boy” mummy from ancient Egypt have revealed a hidden trove of 49 amulets, many of which were made of gold.

The young mummy earned its nickname because of the dazzling display of wealth, which included a gilded head mask found in the mummy’s sarcophagus. Researchers think he was about 14 or 15 years old when he died because his wisdom teeth had not yet emerged.

The Golden Boy was originally unearthed in 1916 at a cemetery in southern Egypt and has been stored in the basement of The Egyptian Museum in Cairo ever since. The mummy had been “laid inside two coffins, an outer coffin with a Greek inscription and an inner wooden sarcophagus,” according to a statement.

While analyzing the scans, the researchers found that the dozens of amulets, comprised of 21 different shapes and sizes, were strategically placed on or inside his body. 

Those included “a two-finger amulet next to the [boy’s] uncircumcised penis, a golden heart scarab placed inside the thoracic cavity and a golden tongue inside the mouth,” according to the statement. 

The mummy was also wearing a pair of sandals, and a garland of ferns was draped across his body, according to the statement.

“This mummy is a showcase of Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife during the Ptolemaic period,” Sahar Saleem, the study’s lead author and a professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University in Egypt, told Live Science in an email.

While researchers aren’t sure of the mummy’s true identity, based on the grave goods alone, they think he was of high socioeconomic status.

The amulets served important roles in the afterlife.

A series of images from the study, including CT scans that “digitally unwrapped” the mummy.

“Ancient Egyptians believed in the power of amulets … and they were used for protection and for providing specific benefits for the living and the dead,” Saleem said. “In modern science, this is explained by energy.

Different materials, shapes and colors (e.g. crystals) provide energy with different wavelengths that could have [an] effect on the body. Amulets were used by ancient Egyptians in their lives. Embalmers placed amulets during mummification to vitalize the dead body.”

For example, the teenage mummy’s tongue was capped in gold “to enable the deceased to speak” and the sandals “were to enable the deceased to walk out of the tomb in the [afterlife],” Saleem said.

However, one amulet in particular stood out to Saleem: the golden heart scarab placed inside the torso cavity. She wound up creating a replica of it using a 3D printer.

“It was really amazing especially after I 3D printed [it] and was able to hold it in my hands,” Saleem said. “There were engraved marks on the back that could represent the inscriptions and spells the priests wrote to protect the boy during his journey. Scarabs symbolize rebirth in ancient Egyptians and [were] in the form of a discoid (disc-shaped) beetle.”

She added that the heart scarab measured about 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) and was inscribed with verses from “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 judging the deceased and weighing of the heart against the feather of Maat (the goddess of truth),” Saleem said. “The heart scarab silenced the heart [on] judgement day so not to bear witness against the deceased.

A heart scarab was placed inside the torso cavity during mummification to substitute for the heart if the body was ever deprived [of] this important organ for any reason.”

The findings were published Jan. 24 in the journal Frontiers of Medicine.

Scientists discover 43 million-year-old fossil of a four-legged whale

Scientists discover 43 million-year-old fossil of a four-legged whale

Scientists discover 43 million-year-old fossil of a four-legged whale
Whale fossil

Scientists have discovered the 43 million‮-‬year-old‮ ‬fossil of a previously unknown four-legged whale species, which helps trace the transition of whales from land to sea.

The newly discovered amphibious whale was found in Egypt and belongs to the Protocetidae, a group of extinct whales that falls in the middle of that transition, say the team of researchers.

Its fossil was unearthed from the middle Eocene rocks in Egypt’s Western Desert – an area once covered by sea that has provided an array of discoveries showing the evolution of whales. It was then studied at Mansoura University Vertebrate Palaeontology Centre (MUVP).

The whale, named Phiomicetus anubis, had an estimated body length of around three metres and a body mass of about 600 kg, and was likely a top predator. Its partial skeleton revealed it to be the most primitive protocetid whale known in Africa.

“Phiomicetus anubis is a key new whale species, and a critical discovery for Egyptian and African paleontology,” said Abdullah Gohar of MUVP, lead author of the paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Despite recent fossil discoveries, the big picture of early whale evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery, say the researchers. More work in the region has the potential to reveal new details about the evolutionary transition from amphibious to fully aquatic whales.

The new whale has raised questions about ancient ecosystems and pointed research towards questions about the origin and coexistence of ancient whales in Egypt.

A group of scientists have discovered a fossil of a now-extinct whale with four legs. This visual reconstruction shows Phiomicetus anubis preying on a sawfish.

Are whales endangered?

Whales are at the top of the food chain and play an important role in the overall health of our oceans. In particular, they play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

Each whale sequesters a huge amount of CO2 in their lifetime. Because they store tonnes of carbon dioxide in their bodies, they are key to mitigating the climate crisis.

But six out of the 13 great whale species are classified as endangered or vulnerable, according to WWF.

Threats include habitat degradation, contaminants, climate and ecosystem change, disturbance from whale watching activities, noise from industrial activities, illegal whaling, reduced prey abundance due to overfishing, and oil spills.

It is crucial that we continue to have a healthy, dynamic population of these top predators, as if whales are threatened, it’s bad news for us all.

Mummified crocodiles give insight into ancient embalming techniques

Mummified crocodiles give insight into ancient embalming techniques

The mummified crocodiles were found in an Egyptian archeological site.

The discovery of 10 mummified crocodiles at a historical site in Egypt has given fresh insight into the ancient embalming technique. Archaeologists say the mummies found in an undisturbed tomb at Qubbat al-Hawā, on the west bank of the Nile, date to the 5th Century BC and were mummified in a unique manner.

Study leader Dr. Bea De Cupere said that mummified animals are common finds at Egyptian archaeological sites but, despite several hundred mummified crocodiles being available in museum collections worldwide, they are not often examined thoroughly.

Dr. Cupere, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and her team conducted a detailed analysis of the preservation of the mummified crocodiles found in rock tombs.

She said: “Ten crocodile mummies, including five more or less complete bodies and five heads, were found in an undisturbed tomb.

“The mummies were in varying states of preservation and completeness. The mummies included five isolated skulls and five partial skeletons.”

The research team were able to examine without unwrapping or using CT-scanning and radiography.

Dr. Cupere said: “Based on the morphology of the crocodiles, two species were identified: West African and Nile crocodiles, with specimens ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 meters in length.

“The preservation style of the mummies is different from that found at other sites, most notably lacking evidence of resin use or carcass evisceration as part of the mummification process.

“The style of preservation suggests a pre-Ptolemaic age, which is consistent with the final phase of funerary use of Qubbat al-Hawā during the 5th Century BC.”

She added: “Comparing mummies between archaeological sites is useful for identifying trends in animal use and mummification practices over time.

“The limitations of this study included the lack of available ancient DNA and radiocarbon, which would be useful for refining the identification and dating of the remains.

“Future studies incorporating these techniques will further inform scientific understanding of ancient Egyptian cultural practices.”

The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Child Buried With Dogs Unearthed in Egypt

Child Buried With Dogs Unearthed in Egypt

Archaeologists from the Center for Egyptological Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences have discovered the bodies of an eight-year-old child and 142 dogs buried together in Egypt.

The discovery, made near Cairo, was dated between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE. During this time, the Romans assumed control over Egypt.

Dogs in ancient Egypt

The buried dogs, 87% of which were puppies, are thought to have died as a result of flooding.

The Archaeologists were able to assess that they died simultaneously, with no violence involved.

They also found blue clay on the dogs, which was found in reservoirs during that period, supporting the theory that the dogs had drowned.

Despite ancient Egyptians worshipping numerous animals, dogs were not generally believed to be sacred.

They were used as pets and for labor. However, some dogs were mummified and buried with their owners.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the dog-headed gods Anubis and Upuat were with the souls of the dead in the afterlife. Some dogs were sacrificed to play the role of an amulet in a burial. 

The only case to which similarities can be drawn is the discovery of a child’s body with 12 dogs in a cemetery in Hierakonpolis.

It is unknown why the boy was buried there. The researchers working theory is that the boy died while caring for the dogs and was buried with them. 

Child Buried With Dogs Unearthed in Egypt
It is unknown why the boy was buried there. The researchers’ working theory is that the boy died while caring for the dogs and was buried with them. 

Children in ancient Egypt

It is unlikely that the boy and his dogs were executed. According to Egypt Today, children in ancient Egypt were treated well with access to education and were forbidden to learn a trade. 

Adding to the mystery, the boy was found with a linen bag over his head. The only other time a body was found with a linen bag covering the head, the person had been executed by an arrow. 

The average life span in ancient Egypt, according to the American Society of Research Overseas, is 22.5-25 years for men and 35-37 years for women. 

Column Cleaning at Egypt’s Great Hypostyle Hall Completed

Column Cleaning at Egypt’s Great Hypostyle Hall Completed

Egypt has completed the restoration of 37 columns as part of the Karnak Temples’ Great Hypostyle Hall restoration project.

Column Cleaning at Egypt’s Great Hypostyle Hall Completed

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the restorers have cleaned the surface of the columns, removing sand, dust and bird pots. He added that the columns’ original engravings and colours now appear.

Furthermore, Waziri noted that the first phase of the project started in July 2021 with the restoration of the 16 opened papyri shaped columns located in the centre of the hall.

The Karnak was the largest and most important religious complex in ancient Egypt. Therefore, its development never ceased for over a 1000 years.

Located in the south of Upper Egypt on the east bank of the city of Luxor, Karnak houses several temples, obelisks and shrines built throughout the Middle and New Kingdoms.

The temple of Amun-Ra is particularly famous for the vast Hypostyle Hall constructed during the reign of King Seti I.

Ptolemaic rulers and Copts altered parts of the complex for their own use.

Mystery Of The Unbreached Burial Chamber Inside A Little-Known Pyramid In The Dashur Complex

Mystery Of The Unbreached Burial Chamber Inside A Little-Known Pyramid In The Dashur Complex

The enduring mysteries of ancient Egypt keep fascinating archaeologists, historians, and the public alike. The Land of the Pharaohs refuses to give up its secrets, and despite countless magnificent archaeological finds, we tend to encounter riddles all over Egypt.

Buried beneath the sands lie the tremendous treasure of one of the most powerful ancient civilizations of all time, the ancient Egyptians.

Mystery Of The Unbreached Burial Chamber Inside A Little-Known Pyramid In The Dashur Complex
Dashur pyramid.

Sometimes archaeologists arrive too late at the site, leaving us with ancient mysteries that may never be solved. That is the beauty but tragedy of ancient Egyptian history. Magnificent ancient tombs have long been looted, and we may never know to whom the burial places belonged.

Located about 15 miles south of Cario, the Dashur complex is famous for its incredible structures constructed during the era of the Old Kingdom. Dashur complex consists of pyramids, mortuary temples, and other unexplored buildings.

Archaeologists have long argued that sites such as Dashur, Giza, Lisht, Meidum, and Saqqara are as significant as archaeological findings.

The site where the previously unknown pyramid was discovered.

It “would confirm or adjust the entire time frame of the extraordinary developmental phase of Egyptian civilization that saw the biggest pyramids built, the nomes (administrative districts) organized, and the hinterlands internally colonized – that is, the first consolidation of the Egyptian nation-state. ” 

In addition to this information, the results of such excavation projects would naturally fill in the historical gaps and provide a more comprehensive picture of the lives and deaths of pharaohs and ordinary people in ancient Egypt.

Many ancient Egyptian pyramids have been destroyed, but still, several are hidden beneath the sands awaiting scientific exploration. One such intriguing ancient structure is the newly-discovered pyramid in Dashur, Dahshur, a previously inaccessible site relatively unknown to the public.

Dashur is an ancient cemetery known mainly for several pyramids, two of which are among the oldest, largest, and best-preserved in Egypt, built from 2613–2589 BC. Two of the Dahshur Pyramids, the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, were constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589 BC).

The Bent Pyramid was the first attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid, but it was not a successful achievement, and Sneferu decided to build another called the Red Pyramid.

Inside the little-known Dashur pyramid.

Several other pyramids of the 13th Dynasty were built at Dahshur, but many are covered by sand, almost impossible to detect.

In 2017, Dr. Chris Naunton, President of the International Association of Egyptologists, traveled to Dashur together with the crew of the Smithsonian Channel and documented the exciting findings of one particular pyramid.

What the team discovered is a bit like an ancient detective story. Local archaeologists had found heavy blocks of finely cut limestone buried deep in the sand. Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquity was informed about the discovery, and archaeologists were sent to the site to excavate.

The burial chamber was sealed but some had been inside and looted.

Having worked long and hard, archaeologists finally uncovered a previously unknown pyramid. Still, the most exciting part was the discovery of a secret passage that led from the pyramid’s entrance to an underground complex at the very heart of the pyramid. The heavy and huge limestone blocks protected the chamber, ensuring no one could pass easily and explore whatever was hidden inside the mysterious ancient pyramid.

The obstacles did not discourage archeologists, who successfully managed to enter the pyramid’s interior after some days of work. Everything seemed to indicate the unknown pyramid at Dashur contained ancient treasures and most likely a mummy.

When scientists found themselves inside the burial chamber, they were astounded to see someone had visited this ancient place long before them. The Dashur pyramid had been robbed about 4,000 years ago. Looting pyramids in the past was quite common, and the Dashur pyramid was one of many robbery victims.

One can understand Dr. Naunton’s disappointment when he glanced into the empty burial chamber, but this discovery is intriguing and raises specific questions.

“There are two questions here that we need to start trying to answer. One is who was buried here? Who was this pyramid built for? And then secondly, how is it that an apparently completely sealed, unbreached burial chamber comes to have been disturbed?” Dr. Nauton says.

Was a mummy stolen from the Dashur pyramid? Maybe or maybe not. How did looters get past the untouched seal? Did the original ancient builders plunder the burial chamber before they sealed it?  These are some of the many questions this ancient Egyptian mystery pose.

Mystery of the unbreached burial chamber Inside the little-known Dahshur pyramid in Egypt

Mystery of the unbreached burial chamber Inside the little-known Dahshur pyramid in Egypt

The enduring mysteries of ancient Egypt keep fascinating archaeologists, historians, and the public alike. The Land of the Pharaohs refuses to give up its secrets, and despite countless magnificent archaeological finds, we tend to encounter riddles all over Egypt. Buried beneath the sands lie the tremendous treasure of one of the most powerful ancient civilizations of all time, the ancient Egyptians.

Mystery of the unbreached burial chamber Inside the little-known Dahshur pyramid in Egypt
The Sphinx and the Piramids, famous Wonder of the World, Giza, Egypt.

Sometimes archaeologists arrive too late at the site, leaving us with ancient mysteries that may never be solved. That is the beauty but tragedy of ancient Egyptian history. Magnificent ancient tombs have long been looted, and we may never know to whom the burial places belonged.

Located about 15 miles south of Cario, the Dahshur complex is famous for its incredible structures constructed during the era of the Old Kingdom. Dahshur there a series of pyramids, mortuary temples, and other buildings that still remain unexplored.

Archaeologists were shocked to find the burial chamber had been ransacked.

Archaeologists have long argued that sites such as Dahshur, along with Giza, Lisht, Meidum, and Saqqara are significant as archaeological findings made there “would confirm or adjust the entire time frame of the extraordinary developmental phase of Egyptian civilization that saw the biggest pyramids built, the nomes (administrative districts) organized, and the hinterlands internally colonized – that is, the first consolidation of the Egyptian nation state.”

In addition to this information, the results of such excavation projects would naturally also fill in the historical gaps and provide a more comprehensive picture of the life and deaths of pharaohs and ordinary people in ancient Egypt.

Many ancient Egyptian pyramids have been destroyed, but several are hidden beneath the sands awaiting scientific exploration. One such intriguing ancient structure is the newly-discovered pyramid in Dahshur, a previously inaccessible site relatively unknown to the public.

The Bent Pyramid is an ancient Egyptian pyramid located at the royal necropolis of Dahshur, approximately 40 kilometres south of Cairo, built under the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu (c. 2600 BC). A unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt, this was the second pyramid built by Sneferu.

Dahshur is an ancient necropolis known mainly for several pyramids, two of which are among the oldest, largest, and best-preserved in Egypt, built from 2613–2589 BC. Two of the Dahshur Pyramids, the Bent Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid, were constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613-2589 BC).

The Bent Pyramid was the first attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid, but it was not a successful achievement, and Sneferu decided to build another called the Red Pyramid. Several other pyramids of the 13th Dynasty were built at Dahshur, but many are covered by sand, almost impossible to detect.

The Red Pyramid, also called the north Pyramid, is the largest of the three major pyramids located at the Dahshur necropolis in Cairo, Egypt. Named for the rusty reddish hue of its red limestone stones, it is also the third largest Egyptian pyramid, after those of Khufu and Khafra at Giza.

In 2017, Dr Chris Naunton, President of the International Association of Egyptologists, traveled to Dahshur together with the crew of the Smithsonian Channel and documented the exciting findings of one particular pyramid.

What the team discovered is a bit like an ancient detective story. Local archaeologists had found heavy blocks of finely cut limestone buried deep in the sand. Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquity was informed about the discovery, and archaeologists were sent to the site to excavate.

The burial chamber was covered by enormous limestone blocks.

Having worked long and hard, archaeologists finally uncovered a previously unknown pyramid. Still, the most exciting part was the discovery of a secret passage that led from the pyramid’s entrance to an underground complex at the very heart of the pyramid. The chamber was protected by heavy and huge limestone blocks ensuring no one could pass easily and explore whatever was hidden inside the mysterious ancient pyramid.

The obstacles did not discourage archeologists successfully after some days of work managed to enter the interior of the pyramid. Everything seemed to indicate the unknown pyramid at Dahshur contained ancient treasures and most likely a mummy.

When scientists found themselves inside the burial chamber they were astounded to see someone had visited this ancient place long before them. The Dahshur pyramid had been robbed about 4,000 years ago. Looting of pyramids in the past was quite common, and the Dahshur pyramid was one of many victims of robbery.

One can understand Dr. Naunton’s disappointment when he glanced into the empty burial chamber, but the fact remains this discovery is intriguing and raises specific questions.

“There are two questions here that we need to start trying to answer. One is who was buried here? Who was this pyramid built for? And then secondly, how is it that an apparently completely sealed, unbreached burial chamber comes to have been disturbed?” Dr. Nauton says.

Was a mummy stolen from the Dahshur pyramid? How did looters get past the untouched seal? Did the original ancient builders plunder the burial chamber before they sealed it? These are some of the many questions this ancient Egyptian mystery pose.

Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II’s ‘handsome’ face revealed in striking reconstruction

Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II’s ‘handsome’ face revealed in striking reconstruction

Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II's 'handsome' face revealed in striking reconstruction
“Age regression” software was used to determine what the pharaoh would have looked like in his prime, at about the age of about 45.

The face of the ancient Egyptian ruler Ramesses II — possibly the pharaoh of the biblical Book of Exodus who persecuted Moses and the Israelites — has been reconstructed from his mummified remains. And although the pharaoh died in his 90s, his visage has been “reverse aged” by several decades to show him in his prime, at about age 45. 

“We carried a three-dimensional age regression process to remove some of the signs of ageing in order to depict him in his middle-age, at the peak of his power,” Caroline Wilkinson, director of the Face Lab at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, told Live Science in an email. 

The result is a portrait of the pharaoh Ramesses II described as “handsome” by Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at Cairo University in Egypt and the leader of the project.

“King Ramesses II was a great warrior who ruled Egypt for 66 years,” Saleem told the radiology magazine AuntMinnieEurope.com. (An “Aunt Minnie” is a radiological term for an unquestionable diagnosis “Bringing Ramesses’ face to life in his old age and as a young man reminds the world of his legendary status,” she said.

Mummy scan

The mummy of Ramesses II is now in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo. It was discovered in 1881 near Luxor in southern Egypt, and at some point after that, it was partially unwrapped to show the pharaoh’s mummified features.

For the latest facial reconstruction, Saleem made a three-dimensional virtual model of the pharaoh’s head and skull from new CT scan data — effectively, thousands of X-rays assembled into a 3D image — which Wilkinson then used to reconstruct his face with computer software used in criminal investigations. 

The new facial reconstruction was made from computed tomography data of the 3,000-year-old mummy of Ramesses II.

Next, Wilkinson used computer-generated imagery (CGI) techniques to add skin, eye and hair textures, based on what Saleem reported would have been common among Egyptians at the time — which showed what the pharaoh may have looked like when he died — and finally used the age regression software to show how he had likely appeared decades earlier. “The age regression was challenging, as this was in 3D,” she said.

Wilkinson explained that the field of estimating the face of someone from their skull is dominated by two approaches: “facial approximation,” which uses average data, templates and biological profiles to produce an “average” face, which might result from several different skulls; and “facial reconstruction,” a more detailed attempt to determine what a particular person looked like, based on anatomical standards, measurements and morphological analysis. A related term is “facial depiction,” which adds colors and textures, she said. 

In this case, the team used the more detailed approach. “The face of Rameses II was produced using 3D facial reconstruction and then a 3D facial depiction process,” Wilkinson said.

Hair and skin coloring based on what’s thought to have been common in ancient Egypt were then added to the facial reconstruction.
The first stage of the facial reconstruction was to use anatomical measurements and other techniques to determine how the pharaoh looked when he died at the age of 90

Famous pharaoh

The pharaoh who is said to have persecuted Moses and the Israelites in the story of Exodus is never named in the Bible, but several historians think his depiction most closely resembles Ramesses II, who was a celebrated ruler at a height of Egyptian power in the 13th century B.C.

As a result, Ramesses II — also called Ramses II or Ramesses the Great — has often been depicted in literary and film adaptations of Exodus, including in the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments.”

The mummy of Ramesses II was found in 1881 in southern Egypt; at some point it was partially unwrapped to show its mummified head.

However, American historians Megan Bishop Moore and Brad Kelle wrote in “Biblical History and Israel’s Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History” (Eerdmans, 2011) that no archaeological evidence has been found to support the idea that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, nor for any of the other events described in Exodus, including the destruction of the pharaoh’s army as it pursued the Israelites across the Red Sea.

Historical records attest that Ramesses II was born in about 1303 B.C. into the family of the pharaoh Seti I and that he became pharaoh when his father died in about 1279 B.C.

During his reign, Ramesses II expanded the Egyptian empire as far north as modern-day Syria and built many monumental structures, including the expansion of the Karnak Temple. He died in about 1213 B.C. 

Ramesses II also influenced later culture: he was the inspiration for the 1818 poem “Ozymandias” by the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had seen a huge broken statue of Ramesses II — known as Ozymandias in Greek — in the British Museum in London, leading him to pen the words “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”