CT scans of Egyptian mummy reveal new details about the death of a pivotal pharaoh

Picture: Dr Sahar Saleem putting the mummy in the CT scanner
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Credit: Sahar Saleem

Modern healthcare know-how is aiding students notify a extra nuanced tale about the fate of an historical king whose violent loss of life indirectly led to the reunification of Egypt in the 16th century BC. The investigation was posted in Frontiers in Medication.

Pharaoh Seqenenre-Taa-II, the Brave, briefly ruled in excess of Southern Egypt all through the country’s profession by the Hyksos, a foriegn dynasty that held electric power throughout the kingdom for about a century (c. 1650-1550 BCE). In his try to oust the Hyskos, Seqenenre-Taa-II was killed. Students have debated the actual nature of the pharaoh’s loss of life because his mummy was very first uncovered and studied in the 1880s.

These and subsequent exams — together with an X-ray examine in the 1960s — famous the dead king experienced experienced various extreme head injuries but no other wounds to his overall body. The prevailing concept, primarily based on the proof, was that the king had been captured in fight and then executed afterward, potentially by the Hyksos king himself. Other individuals have instructed he was murdered in his sleep by a palace conspiracy.

In addition, the poor problem of the mummy instructed the embalming experienced been performed unexpectedly, absent from the royal mummification workshop.

But computed tomography (CT) scans of the mummified stays of Seqenenre disclosed new aspects about his head accidents, like formerly undetected lesions that embalmers had skillfully concealed.

The authors of the new paper give a novel interpretation of the functions just before and immediately after the king’s demise dependent on the personal computer-processed X-ray photos: Seqenenre experienced without a doubt been captured on the battlefield, but his fingers had been tied guiding his back, protecting against him from defending towards the attack.

“This implies that Seqenenre was really on the front line with his troopers risking his life to liberate Egypt,” said direct writer Dr. Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at Cairo College who specialises in paleoradiology. This investigative method employs medical imaging technologies to non-invasively examine a cross part of archaeological remains, which include bodies. It can assistance determine age at dying, sexual intercourse and even how the particular person died.&#13

For case in point, the CT scans, combined with other proof, propose the execution experienced been carried out by various attackers, which the researchers confirmed by learning five various Hyksos weapons that matched the king’s wounds.

“In a normal execution on a sure prisoner, it could be assumed that only one particular assailant strikes, maybe from various angles but not with unique weapons,” Saleem described. “Seqenenre’s demise was relatively a ceremonial execution.”

The CT research also identified that Seqenenre was about 40 when he died, dependent on the comprehensive morphology exposed in the photos, giving the most exact estimate to day.&#13
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Saleem and co-writer Zahi Hawass, an archaeologist and previous Egyptian minister of antiquities, have pioneered the use of CT scans to review the New Kingdom pharaohs and warriors, which includes nicely-acknowledged names these as Hatshepsut, Tutankhamun, Ramesses III, Thutmose III and Rameses II. But Seqenenre, dependent on the obtainable evidence, appears to be the only a single amid this illustrious group to have been on the frontline of the battlefield.

In addition, the CT research revealed important specifics about the mummification of Seqenenre’s entire body. For instance, the embalmers utilized a sophisticated approach to hide the king’s head wounds beneath a layer of embalming content that functioned in the same way to the fillers made use of in fashionable plastic surgery. This would suggest that mummification took area in a actual mummification laboratory fairly than in a poorly geared up location, as formerly interpreted.

Saleem said the CT scan examine presents important new particulars about a pivotal place in Egypt’s long record. “Seqenenre’s demise determined his successors to keep on the battle to unify Egypt and start out the New Kingdom,” she reported.&#13

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