Variability in Brain Treatment During Mummification of Royal Egyptians Dated to the 18th–20th Dynasties: MDCT Findings Correlated With the Archaeologic Literature

Citation:
Saleem, S. N., and Z. Hawass, "Variability in Brain Treatment During Mummification of Royal Egyptians Dated to the 18th–20th Dynasties: MDCT Findings Correlated With the Archaeologic Literature", American Journal of Roentgenology, vol. 200, issue 4, pp. W336-W344, 2013.

Abstract:

OBJECTIVE. The objective of our study was to use MDCT to study brain treatment and removal (excerebration) as part of mummification of royal Egyptian mummies dated to the 18th to early 20th Dynasties and to correlate the imaging findings with the archaeologic literature.

MATERIALS AND METHODS. As part of an MDCT study of the Royal Ancient Egyptian Mummies Project, we analyzed CT images of the heads of 12 mummies dated to circa 1493–1156 BC (18th to early 20th Dynasties). We reconstructed and analyzed CT images for the presence of cranial defects, brain remnants, intracranial embalming materials, and nasal packs. We compared the CT findings of mummies dated to the 18th Dynasty with those dated to the 19th to early 20th Dynasties.

RESULTS. The Akhenaten mummy was excluded because of extensive postmortem skull fractures. CT showed that no brain treatment was offered to three mummies (Thutmose I, II, and III) who dated to the early 18th Dynasty and was offered to the eight mummies who dated later. The route of excerebration was transnasal in eight mummies; an additional suspected route was via a parietal defect. CT showed variable appearances of the intracranial contents. There were larger volumes of cranial packs and more variability in the appearances of the cranial packs in the royal mummies dated to the 19th to 20th Dynasties than in those dated to the 18th Dynasty.

CONCLUSION. MDCT shows variations in brain treatment during mummification of royal Egyptian mummies (18th–20th Dynasties). This study sets a template for future CT studies of the heads of ancient Egyptian mummies and focuses on the key elements of cranial mummification in this ancient era.