Facial reconstruction of a 3500-year-old Egyptian dignitary

A 3500-years-old mummy of an Egyptian dignitary living in the times of 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmoses III (1479–1425 BC) served as a basis for a digital reconstruction the face and brain.

The mummy of the 3500-years-old Egyptian dignitary (by Francesca Lallo)

The individual was named Nebiri, served as Head of the Stables and lived under the reign of the 18th Dynasty (1549/1550-1292 BC) pharaoh Thutmoses III. His remains were found in a tomb within the Valley of the Queens in the form of a mummified head and a set of canopic jars containing internal organs. The tomb of Nebiri was allegedly  plundered in antiquity and his body deliberately destroyed. The individual was between 45-60 years old at the time of death and his cause of death was diagnosed as chronic heart failure – the oldest case ever discovered. Using computed tomography and facial reconstruction techniques scientists recreated his facial reconstruction as a a man with a prominent nose, wide jaw, straight eyebrows and moderately thick lips.

The facial reconstruction (by Philippe Froesch)

Archaeologists have also discovered that the mummified head was filled with bandages, which were carefully inserted almost everywhere in the head, in the nose, ears, eyes and mouth – as revealed by CT scans. The linen bandages had been treated with a complex mixture of an animal fat or plant oil, a balsam or aromatic plant, a coniferous resin and heated Pistacia resin. The scans have also revealed  a tiny hole in a honeycomb-like bone structure known as the cribriform plate, which separates the nasal cavity from the brain, and researchers believe it was made to insert the linen filling. A 3D reconstruction on the basis of the CT scans allowed to visualise soft tissues destroyed or modified by post-mortem alterations. No anatomical anomalies were detected within the reconstructed brain by bioarchaeologists that studied the results.

(after Francesca Lallo, Philippe Froesch & Live Science)

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