“Mysterious Lady” mummy’s face brought back to life with forensics

The face of the ‘Mysterious Lady’ – a 2,000-year-old ancient Egyptian mummy who may have been pregnant when she died – has been reconstructed by a team of researchers in Poland.

With the help of medical examiners, her face was reconstructed by the Warsaw Mummy Project based on the shape of the mummy’s skull, which provides clues to possible facial structure and appearance.

The images were recently shown as part of an exhibition at the Museum of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. Through the project, the team hopes to provide a personal glimpse into the lives of the ancient Egyptians.

Keep in mind, however, that some guesswork and artistic license is required to create a facial reconstruction based on a skull.

“Our bones, and the skull in particular, give a lot of information about a person’s face. Although it cannot be considered an exact portrait, the skull like many anatomical parts is unique and shows a set of shapes and proportions that will partly appear in the final face,” said Chantal Milani, an Italian forensic pathologist and member of the project. a statement sent to IFLScience.

A scan of a mummy and its 3D reconstruction.

The skull of the “Mysterious Lady”. Image credit: S. Szilke/Warsaw Mummy Project.

The mummy is known as the “Mysterious Lady” for good reason. The body was discovered in the royal tombs of Thebes and probably belonged to a woman in her 20s or 30s who died in the 1st century BC. During the 19th and 20th centuries, this mummy was assumed to belong to a male priest. However, later work revealed that the person was, in fact, a woman.

Then came another tantalizing discovery: X-rays and CT scans of the embalmed body revealed the presence of a mass in the lower abdomen of the mummified women, leading some researchers to conclude that they had discovered the first pregnant mummy from the ancient world.

Reconstruction of the face of an ancient Egyptian mummy

The recent reconstruction of the face of the “Mysterious Lady”. Image credit: Hew Morrison 2022

However, the research was not without controversy. Some other researchers have responded to the study, arguing that there isn’t enough to substantiate this bold claim. Others have suggested that the research is based on the opinion of researchers who do not have acute experience in analyzing medical scans.

That said, the Warsaw Mummy Project is sticking to its guns and continues to maintain that this is, indeed, the world’s first pregnant mummy.

“For many people, ancient Egyptian mummies are curiosities that are displayed in museums and inspire adventure in books, movies and computer games. Sometimes we forget that these were people just like us, who had loved ones and whose deaths were personal tragedies. Mummification was an expression of the care given to preserve a person for the afterlife,” the Warsaw Mummy Project added.

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