Ancient Egyptian coffins unearthed 400 years ago ‘virtually’ opened to reveal ‘bodies buried with organs’ and gold coins

THE INSIDES of Egyptian mummies found in 1615 have been revealed for the first time thanks to modern technology.

Scientists were able to peer inside the ancient coffins without opening them thanks to a few CT scans.

Two of the coffins were found 400 years ago in a rock cut tomb at the Saqqara necropolis in Egypt.

Only three of these coffins are known to still exist and the third one was also found at Saqqara at a later date.

They're known as 'stucco-shrouded portrait mummies' because the outside of the coffin supposedly depicts what the people inside looked like when they were alive.

One contains a male and the other two contain females, one of which is a teenager girl.

These mummies were unusual because they were placed on wooden boards, wrapped in decorative shrouds and then covered in plaster on which a whole-body portrait and gold was added.

CT scans showed that the teenage girl mummy was definitely buried with all of her organs inside.

That includes the brain, which was often removed during standard mummification.

Researchers think all of the mummies may have been left with their organs inside, which then decayed.

Both women were buried wearing multiple necklaces and all of the coffins contained artefacts that Egyptians may have thought were useful in the afterlife.

These include coins that might have been intended for paying Charon, a god believed to carry souls across the river.

All the mummies date to the late Roman period in Egypt, which was around 30 BCE to CE 395.

It's thought they were all fairly wealthy when they were alive.

The two famous mummies found together in Saqqara were X-rayed before in the 1980s but the CT scans revealed much more.

For example, we now know the woman died in her 30s and was around 4'11".

She is also thought to have suffered with arthritis.

The teenage girl died between the ages of 17 and 19 and had a benign tumour in her spine.

The male was around 5'4" inches, died around the age of 25 and had some quite bad dental issues.

The teenage mummy is on display at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt.

The other two can be found at an exhibition in Dresden in Germany.

This research has been published in the journal PLOS One. 

A brief history of Ancient Egypt

Here’s everything you need to know…

  • The Ancient Egyptians were an advanced civilisation who at one point owned a huge portion of the globe
  • The civilisation began about 5,000 years ago when ancient humans began building villages along the River Nile
  • It lasted for about 3,000 years and saw the building of complex cities centuries ahead of their time – as well as the famous Great Pyramids
  • The Ancient Egyptians were experts at farming and construction
  • They invented a solar calendar, and one of the world's earliest writing systems: The hieroglyph
  • The Egyptians were ruled by kings and queens called pharaohs
  • Religion and the afterlife were a huge part of Ancient Egyptian culture. They had over 2,000 gods
  • Pharaohs built huge elaborate tombs to be buried in, some of which were pyramids – at the time among the largest buildings in the world
  • The Egyptians believed in life after death, and important people's corpses were mummified to preserve their bodies for the afterlife
  • The Ancient Egytpian empire fell due to a mix of factors, including wars with other empires and a 100-year period of drought and starvation

In other archaeology news, the 'biggest archaeological discovery of the year' will soon be announced by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

A sacrificed llama mummies have been dug up in Peru and they're almost perfectly preserved after 500 years.

And, the skull of a 'cousin' of the human species unearthed in South Africa could shed more light on how humans evolved.

What do you think of the mummy research? Let us know in the comments…

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