Amenhotep I

Digitally Unwrapping 3500-Year-Old Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep I

Mummified bones of Egyptian monarchs, royals, and priests have long piqued people’s interest all over the world, providing insight into this long-gone civilization. Mummies and sarcophagus piques the interest of the people to know what lay beneath it and explore the unknown. Everyone wishes to open up the mummies and know about the Egyptian rulers who were mummified and what secret they carry with them. However, it was an impossible dream until today. Since the 11th century BC, scientists have essentially peeled a mummy for the first time.Using CT scans, scientists have digitally unwrapped Pharaoh Amenhotep I, who reigned from 1525 to 1504 BC.

His is the only royal mummy that has yet to be unwrapped in contemporary times. According to scans, the prince was 35 years old, 169 cm tall, circumcised, and in good physical health when he died. Therefore, his death was most likely caused by natural causes.

Researchers examined the royal’s physical appearance, health, cause of death, and mummification in a report published in Frontiers in Medicine. They used CT to analyze the mummy and created three-dimensional pictures of the head mask, bandages, and the nearly unwrapped mummy. The mummy was well preserved.

Amenhotep I
Credit: SciTechDaily

Unwrapping Amenhotep I

Scientists discovered that the royal mummy resembled his father physically, with a narrow chin, a little narrow nose, curled hair, and somewhat projecting upper teeth. Scientists stated they couldn’t locate any wounds or deformities caused by sickness to support the cause of death, save for several post-mortem mutilations, apparently done by tomb thieves after his original burial. The early mummifiers had taken his entrails but not his brain or heart.

Why Amenhotep I wasn’t unwrapped earlier?

Amenhotep I, the second pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty to take the throne following the death of his father Ahmose I, reigned Egypt for around 21 years. Egyptologists think Amenhotep I governed with his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari. His name means “Amun is content.” During his reign, Amenhotep I ruled over Egypt’s territory, launched a war on Kush, and led an expedition to Libya. Amenhotep I’s mummy was discovered in 1881 at Luxor’s Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache, where authorities of the 21st Dynasty buried the mummies of various New Kingdom kings and nobles to protect them from tomb thieves.

Egyptian mummies have long been associated with magical ideas due to Hollywood extravaganzas. As a result, they have been immortalized as mythical beings. It, however, is not the case. According to researchers, Egyptologists have never been brave enough to uncover the mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I, but not for any legendary reason.

According to the researchers, the unwrapping never happened. Instead, it is carefully wrapped, ornamented with lovely flower garlands, and covered with an exquisite lifelike mask inlaid with colourful stones on the face and neck.

Unwrapping the Mummy

The mummy of King Amenhotep I (18th Dynasty, c.1525–1504 BC) was reburied in Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache by priests of the 21st Dynasty. The body was discovered completely wrapped in 1881, making it one of the rare royal mummies that have not been opened in modern times. Experts believed that non-invasive digital unwrapping using CT would provide information about the physical appearance, health, cause of death, and mummification technique of King Amenhotep I’s mummy. They used CT to analyze the mummy and created three-dimensional pictures of the head mask, bandages, and the nearly unwrapped mummy. CT allowed for the visibility of Amenhotep I’s visage, who died at the age of 35. There was no CT indication of pathological abnormalities or a cause of death, and the teeth exhibited negligible attrition.

The mummy is adorned with 30 amulets/jewellery items, including a beaded metallic (most likely gold) girdle. The mummy has various post-mortem injuries, most likely caused by tomb thieves and treated by 21st Dynasty embalmers. The transversely orientated right forearm is separately wrapped, and it is thought to be the earliest known New Kingdom mummy with crossed arms at the chest. The head mask is made of cartonnage and has stone eyes inset in it. The digital unwrapping of Amenhotep I’s mummy using CT creates a once-in-a-lifetime chance to expose the King’s physical characteristics non-invasively, comprehend the mummification technique early in the 18th Dynasty, and the reburial intervention style by 21st Dynasty embalmers.

Amenhotep Mummy
Credit: News


Amenhotep I governed Egypt for approximately 21 years (around 1525–1504 BC). He was the second monarch of the 18th Dynasty to take the throne after his father, Ahmose I, died. Amenhotep’s name means “Amun is satisfied.” His throne name was Djeserkare, which means “Holy is the Soul of Re.” During his reign, Amenhotep I defended Egypt’s borders, leading campaigns to Kush and expeditions to Libya. The ruler I ruled tranquilly, concentrating on administrative organization and temple construction. Amenhotep I’s most prominent temples were the Temple of Amun at Karnak, a temple in Nubia at Sai, and constructions in Upper Egypt at Elephantine, Kom Ombo, Abydos, and the Temple of Nekhbet. Amenhotep I was honoured in Deir El Medina after his death.

The ruler’s original tomb has yet to be discovered in contemporary times. The mummy was discovered in 1881 at Luxor’s Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache, where authorities of the 21st Dynasty buried the mummies of various New Kingdom kings and nobles to protect them from tomb thieves. It was discovered encased in a coffin. The hieroglyphic writings on the coffin, known as dockets, proved Amenhotep I’s name and documented the rewrapping of the mummy after tomb robbers destroyed it. Amenhotep I’s mummy was rewrapped twice by priests of the 21st Dynasty: once by Pinedjem I, Theban High Priest of Amun, and again a decade later by his son Masarharta.

The mummy of Amenhotep I was brought from Deir el Bahari to Cairo shortly after its discovery, first to the Boulaq Museum and subsequently to a palace in Giza (for Ismail Pasha). Finally, the Royal Mummies, including those of Amenhotep I, were relocated to Cairo’s Egyptian Museum at Tahrir in 1902. Amenhotep I’s mummy was one of the rare royal mummies that modern Egyptologists had not opened. Because of its excellent wrapping, covered by garlands and its great face mask, Gaston Maspero, Egypt’s director of antiquities at the time, opted to leave the corpse intact. When Amenhotep I’s grave was examined, a preserved wasp was discovered, probably attracted by the fragrance of garlands and imprisoned.

CT Study of the Mummy

The wrapped mummy’s 3D model allows for the visualization of its many component layers, including the head mask, wrapping bandages, and mummy. In addition, the digital unwrapping of the mummy by peeling off virtual layers revealed the mummy’s exterior and inside, allowing us to analyze it in depth.

Amenhotep III’s Mummy My face is oval, with sunken eyes and flattened cheeks. The nose is thin, flattened, and tiny, and upper teeth protrude somewhat. The chin is slender with tiny ears and piercing in the left lobule. A few curled hair locks are visible at the back and sides of the head. Amenhotep I’s mummy is in a generally good preservation state.

Age at Death

Based on the closure of epiphyses of all long bones and the morphology of the surface of the symphysis pubis, Amenhotep I’s age at death is believed to be 35 years.

Jewellery and Amulets

The shrouded mummy of Amenhotep I has 30 amulets/jewellery items.

Mask for the Head

A piece of cartonnage circumferentially surrounds the wrapped mummy’s head and neck and continues in a tripartite wig arrangement till the mid-chest level in the front and rear.

Credit: Live Science


According to their beliefs, mummification was performed in ancient Egypt for 30 centuries. It was to preserve the corpse from deterioration in preparation for the resurrection. The burial ceremonies and mummification differed according to the age of the ancient Egyptian culture. The royal mummies of ancient Egypt are a valuable source of information for our understanding of mummification procedures. Through visualization of the bone and soft tissue parts and various foreign materials and packing, CT imaging can assist in determining the mummification style.

The ancient Egyptians frequently excerebrated the brain by inserting an instrument through the nose and breaking the weak region of the anterior skull base. The brain was removed, and embalming ingredients were occasionally inserted into the skull. Exerebration attempts date back to the Fourth Dynasty. The CT pictures of Amenhotep I’s mummy demonstrate that no attempt was made to remove the brain, which is shown shrunk and filling the rear of the skull. Other royal mummies from the reign of Amenhotep I (late 17th to early 18th Dynasties) have not been excavated. Seqenenre Taa II, Meritamun, Thutmose II, Thutmose III, and Hatshepsut are among them.

Excerebration became popular later in the 18th Dynasty, and its apex is said to have occurred during the Ptolemaic Period. The ancient Egyptian embalmers also removed the internal organs through an abdominal incision to prevent bodily putrefaction. In ancient Egypt, bandaging and wrapping the mummified body with linen sheets was important for the embalming process. The mummy’s bandaging techniques evolved during ancient Egyptian civilization. To safeguard the corpse, embalmers utilized funeral artefacts. The Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian text, outlined specific amulets and their location.

From the Predynastic Period forward, Egyptian mummies were given jewellery made of various materials made from shells and beads to gold and jewels. Some of the most well-known and exquisite jewellery pieces were discovered on Tutankhamun’s complete royal mummy. However, fewer jewellery items were discovered in the New Kingdom royal corpses discovered in stored graves. Previous CT scans of the New Kingdom royal mummies discovered in the two royal caches revealed Thutmose III (BC) wearing two golden bracelets hidden under the wrappings. The CT pictures in this study indicate a belt made of 34 gold beads put directly on the lower back of Amenhotep I’s corpse.

The wrapped mummy of Amenhotep I offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the 21st Dynasty priests’ assistance during its reburial. It is believed that the reburial of Amenhotep I’s mummy, the 21st Dynasty embalmers inserted two amulets beneath the linen band intended to hide the anterior abdominal wall defect.

Amenhotep I’s mummy wears a mask. In ancient Egypt, mummy masks were used for an intricate funeral process. They are often constructed of cartonnage. Also, the embalmers draped the mummy with garlands of Delphinium Orientale, Sesbania Egyptiaca, Acacia Nilotica, and Carmanthus Tinctorius. The magnificent reburial job given by the priests of the 21st Dynasty for Amenhotep I’s mummy influenced Maspero’s decision not to uncover the mummy or damage its uniqueness. The New Kingdom’s reburial project The removal and reuse of royal burial equipment by priests of the 21st Dynasty was accused of removing and reusing royal burial equipment for the Third Intermediate Period Kings.

Two coffins were for Thutmose I (18th Dynasty) were repurposed for King Pinudjem I (21st Dynasty) (2). However, this CT scan of Amenhotep I’s corpse reveals how the Theban priests of the 21st Dynasty painstakingly repaired Amenhotep I’s royal mummified body and preserved or gave costly amulets and jewels. The digital unwrapping may give us renewed faith in the generosity of the 21st Dynasty priests who are reburial the Royal Mummies.

CT scanning of King Amenhotep I

CT scanning is the diagnostic gold standard imaging method for investigating mummies. Unfortunately, magnetic resonance imaging has little utility in examining dry mummified remains since it primarily offers information on the location of mobile hydrogen inside the body. However, Dual-energy CT scanning may be used in the future to examine Amenhotep I’s mummy.

Dual-energy CT scanning employs two distinct energy levels, which may aid in identifying and characterizing embalming ingredients in the mummy. The specialized CT imaging approach used in the digital unwrapping might be useful in paleo-anthropological and bio-archaeological studies of Egyptian mummies and mummies from other civilizations such as Peru. In addition, CT scans are increasingly being used in forensic medicine. Researchers revealed previously unknown facts about his looks and the rich, one-of-a-kind jewellery he was buried with behind the layers of wrapping.

According to deciphered hieroglyphics, the mummy was opened once in the 11th century BCE. That occurred more than four vast centuries after his mummification and burial process. However, researchers think that the priests who renovated and reburied him did so to fix grave robber damage and reuse royal burial equipment for future pharaohs.


The digital uncovering of Amenhotep’s mummy using CT to disclose the physical features of the King non-invasively comprehends the mummification method early in the 18th Dynasty. It effectively detects and analyses the reburial intervention done in the 21st Dynasty. Previously, the Egyptian priest Neswaiu had been digitally unwrapped. Neswaiu lived in the third century BC in Thebes – modern-day Luxor – at the deity Montu. His ashes were donated to the Medelhavsmuseet when it initially opened in 1928.

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