A 2,000 year old female Egyptian mummy has been located at a burial ground near Amenemhat III’s pyramid. The discovery came about following some previously archived papers regarding its location. The striking thing about this particular mummy is that she had a highly elaborate hairstyle. According to researchers, CT scans suggest this woman, who was presumed to be aged 20 when she died, was placed in a decorated coffin displaying a golden face. The scans also present new details about how the hair was styled during her time period in Egypt, when it was controlled by the Roman Emperor Tiberius between 4 A.D. – 14 A.D.
Archaeologists explain that the female mummy was close to the site of Hawara in Egypt, which is believed to have been built over 2,000 years prior to her lifetime.
The female mummy’s hairstyle is described by the research team from RSNA Radiographic. They explain the female mummy had long curly hair strands that came from the middle of the scalp, then ran down the back, forming a type of plait. This was then wound into a seeming crown that wrapped around the back of the head. This particular hairstyle was also known as a chignon, or tutulus style.
Researchers point out that this was one of the most popular hairstyles for women and was probably displayed by the Roman Empress Faustina I during the 2nd century.
The female mummy and the golden faced coffin can be located in Montreal at the Redpath Museum, Canada.
Apart from the 2,000 year old female mummy, another elderly woman mummy nicknamed, ‘the matron,’ was discovered with white and grey hair. According to researchers, she lived somewhere between 30 – 50 years of age. The last mummy was a male, age yet unknown, but his cause of death seems to be from a rather painful dental infection.
As a result of the CT scans and 3D printing, and with the help of Physical Anthropologist Andrew Wade from Western University (leader of the research team), archaeologists have been able to reconstruct and recreate the face of the younger female mummy, and that of two other mummies. This research can produce hair styles, hair colours, skin and even muscle tone. Wade states that, ‘The high spatial and contrast resolution of the last decade of CT studies of mummies has allowed us to examine the paleo-anatomic minutiae (of mummies).’
This process was carefully done by Victoria Lywood, Professional in Forensics from John Abbotts College. Lywood was able to scan the mummy, then reproduce a three-dimensional model using a 3D printer. The next step in the process was using non-hardening plasticine to help recreate skin tone and fine muscle details for the 3D head. Once hardened by casting the plasticine, the model underwent final touches before being displayed in public.
‘There are three human Egyptian mummies that have been trapped in the manner they held when laid to rest nearly 2,000 years ago. And now we can reveal what they might have looked like,’ the RSNA Radiographic team say in their press release.
The advantages of CT scanning are simple. It provides superior imaging of mummies without having to physically unravel them, thereby eliminating the risk of historical damage and losing essential archaeological information such as sex, health, age, injuries and customs that may help us learn about the ancient world.
According to LiveScience, only two scientific papers have been published on mummies and their facial reconstructions in this manner, suggesting that there is still a lot to learn from 3D scanning techniques. For example, the female mummy that researchers scanned had three puncture marks located a few inches to the right of her abdominal wall. It is suggested that this may be the chief cause of death, which of course leads to the next question – how did she get them?
As CT scans are still far from exact details, researchers from the Radiographic papers state that, the wounds could have occurred prior to her death, or soon afterwards.
Copyright © 2013 Aleesha Csanki