A team of scientists have managed to uncover a number of very intimate secrets about the mummy of a young boy that has been dead for 2,300 years.
That is to say, they’ve found out some strange things about the boy who was mummified thousands of years ago – we don’t know anything about his mother.
The Cairo University team – led by professor of radiology Sahar Saleem – have discovered that the boy must have been a rich kid, because he had 49 expensive amulets about his person when he was buried.
Oh, and they found out that he might have been a non-Egyptian too, but they learned that from his penis.
More on that later.
Back to the precious amulets, on that subject Saleem said: “Many were made of gold, while some were made of semi-precious stones, fired clay or faience. Their purpose was to protect the body and give it vitality in the afterlife.”
He added that the jewellery was ‘beautifully stylised in a unique arrangement of three columns between the folds of the wrappings and inside the mummy’s body cavity'.
He continued: "These include the eye of Horus, the scarab, the akhet amulet of the horizon, the placenta, the knot of Isis and others."
Dubbed ‘Golden Boy’ the mummy was found in 1916 at a cemetery in Southern Egypt that was in use between 332BCE until 30BCE.
Since then, he’d been sitting in the basement of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, completely unexamined by scientists.
Anyway, you want to hear about the penis though, don’t you?
Well, because of the CT scan they found that the boy was estimated as between 14 and 15 years old, because of the bone fusion exhibited and the lack of wisdom teeth in his mouth.
They also found out that he was uncircumcised.
That’s interesting, because Egyptian boys were usually circumcised at around the age of 13, suggesting that he is not Egyptian, but potentially from another people who adopted Egyptian burial practices.
The head of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, Professor Salima Ikram, explained: “The lack of circumcision is interesting as it might tell us something about his ethnicity – Egyptians tended to be circumcised generally before the age of 13.
“It might suggest that foreigners adopted Egyptian burial practices – and we know the Persians did.
“He could have come from any number of places.
“He could be Nubian, Greek, Persian, anywhere from Asia Minor where they weren’t circumcised.
“What we can say is he probably wasn’t Jewish.”
However, she offered a note of caution, explaining that whilst the latest CT scans can achieve this level of detail on a mummy: “I wouldn’t hang all of this on one fragile foreskin.”
Ikram did still praise the level of detail that the scans were able to bring to their investigations, adding: “It’s very nice to have a study with this level of detail.
“It is part of building up a larger dataset for Egyptologists to better understand the lives of ancient people and their religious and cultural beliefs.”
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