Unraveling Mummy Mysteries

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Death and Mummies of Ancient Egypt

Whether watching them in movies, making a Halloween costume out of toilet paper, or getting up close and personal with one in a national museum, many are fascinated by pictures, stories, encounters and more of Egypt’s mummies. Initially happening naturally as a result of the conditions of burial sites in the desert, mummification later became a key religious ceremony to the ancient Egyptians. The bodies of Pharaohs or Egyptian nobility were deliberately embalmed and preserved, believing that it ensured they would live well in the afterlife.

But it wasn’t just about mummies—death in ancient Egypt was all about ceremony. It’s that sense of ceremony that has left us some of the most enduring relics from this fascinating period in Egypt’s history, including the mysterious Sphinx, and the last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in the Great Pyramid at Giza.

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from The University of Chicago

Last month, the Art Institute of Chicago teamed up with radiologist Michael W. Vannier of the University of Chicago Medicine and Oriental Institute research associate Emily Teeter to study two of its mummies, Paankhenamun (c. 945--715 BC) and Wenuhotep (c. 300 BC). The team used state-of-the-art CT scan technology to examine the mummies, revealing new information about life in ancient Egypt.

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