There’s one thing about mummies that all the time fascinates folks. We see this from the eye given to mummies in museum exhibitions and of their frequent look in books, movies and video games. Maybe it’s the truth that they’re lifeless but nonetheless very identifiable as folks – ultimately concurrently lifeless and residing. Regardless of the purpose, it’s all the time thrilling when a research reveals new details about mummified stays.
Seqenenre Taa II was often called “The Courageous” and dominated southern Egypt for a comparatively quick interval round 1558 to 1553 BC. His rule got here to an abrupt finish when he met a really violent loss of life. Now, researchers from Cairo College and Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities have used cutting-edge imaging strategies to disclose new particulars about this loss of life.
A violent loss of life
Seqenenre’s stays have been first revealed in 1881, and examinations in 1886 and 1906 steered he had been subjected to violent head accidents. Within the Nineteen Sixties, X-rays revealed 5 separate accidents on his head, however nowhere else.
On high of this, his embalming appeared to have been very swiftly carried out. Unusually, no salts have been used to protect the physique, the mind was left in place and no linen was inserted into the skull.
For Seqenenre Taa II, the violent accidents have been probably the results of dying in battle or execution by a king who had invaded the north of the nation. One idea additionally steered he was killed whereas sleeping.
Within the new research, the staff utilized computed tomography (CT) scanning to the stays to research additional. CT is a non-invasive imaging methodology that principally layers a number of X-rays on high of one another as a way to create three dimensional photos of each the smooth and arduous tissues. We normally consider it in medical settings, nevertheless it has a protracted historical past of use in forensic contexts to securely research stays contained inside wrappings or physique baggage.
Sahar Saleem, Creator supplied
The CT scans revealed the physique was not organized in its traditional anatomical place. Regardless that it was in an uncommon state, skeletal and dental indicators confirmed an age of round 40 years. Photographs of contained in the cranium confirmed that no try had been made to take away the mind. The CT examination revealed the extent of Seqenenre’s accidents, with a lower throughout the appropriate facet of his brow, a puncture wound simply above his proper eye, a fractured nostril and cheekbone, a lower on the left cheek space, fractures above his proper ear, and a fracture of the bone inside his cranium that runs behind the eyes.
Seqenenre suffered an extremely violent loss of life. The angle of the accidents steered the attackers have been positioned larger, so both on horseback or whereas he was kneeling, and dealing with him. The CT imaging allowed the form of the injuries to be decided, displaying that a number of weapons have been utilized by a number of attackers. But such violent cranial accidents are normally accompanied by defence accidents on the arms because the sufferer makes an attempt to defend himself. The CT scans confirmed that no such accidents have been current right here.
Sahar Saleem, Creator supplied
Most royal mummies from this era are laid with their arms crossed over their chest, however the place of Seqenenre’s palms suggests they have been tied collectively after which fastened on the time of loss of life, by a situation often called cadaveric spasm – the place the physique immediately stiffens straight after loss of life.
The researchers recommend the state of embalming was not a results of hastiness, however moderately the situation of the physique. There’s proof the embalmers tried to cowl the facial accidents utilizing a paste of embalming supplies. Whereas it’s unclear why the mind was not eliminated as was traditional, I wonder if the extent of the smooth tissue trauma made this too daunting.
Regardless of the thrill at discovering mummified stays, preserved human stays aren’t unusual in archaeological contexts. Mummies themselves have been present in an excellent many areas around the globe, not simply Egypt.
Mummification happens when smooth tissues are desiccated, or dried out, which may be because of warmth but additionally air stream. Drying out stops decomposition and preserves the stays to the extent that identifiable options corresponding to tattoos and fingerprints can nonetheless be recovered.
Final yr, supposed preserved mind matter was discovered at Herculaneum, the positioning of an historical city in modern-day Campania, Italy. Stays from the Bronze Age website of Cladh Hallan within the Outer Hebrides have additionally been mummified. I’ve even labored on a contemporary forensic case the place the physique had been mummified because of its place close to a drafty window.
In all of those circumstances, and lots of extra, strategies just like the CT scanning used on this new analysis might probably assist reveal extra details about the preserved folks.
Solved: the thriller of Britain’s Bronze Age mummies
The event of latest imaging applied sciences is enhancing our interpretations of how historical folks died. Right here, the appliance of CT scanning allowed for better accuracy in age estimation and revealed new accidents that hadn’t been recognized earlier than.
Non-contact imaging strategies are being utilized in more and more diversified archaeological and forensic contexts as they grow to be extra accessible, extra transportable and file in better decision. Such advances will solely assist keep our collective curiosity in our preserved ancestors.
Tim Thompson doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.