The face of a ‘Mysterious Lady’ mummy brought back to life thanks to 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 forensic specialists, his face was reconstructed by the Warsaw Mummy Project based on the shape of the mummy’s skull, which provides clues to the possible structure and appearance of the face.

The images were recently displayed as part of an exhibition at the Silesian Museum in Katowice, Poland. Through this project, the team hopes to offer a personal insight into the lives of ancient Egyptians.

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

“Our bones and the skull in particular, give a lot of information about an individual’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 partially appear in the final face,” Chantal Milani, an Italian forensic anthropologist and project member, said in 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 “Mystery Lady” for good reason. The body was discovered in the Royal Tombs of Thebes, and it most likely belonged to a woman in her 20s or 30s who died in the 1st century BCE. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this mummy was believed to belong to a male priest. However, later work revealed that the person was actually a woman.

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

Facial reconstruction of an ancient Egyptian mummy

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

The research has not been without controversy, however. Some other researchers have hit back at the study, saying there isn’t enough to back up this bold claim. Others have suggested that the research is based on the opinions of researchers who do not have acute expertise in analyzing medical scans.

That said, the Warsaw mummy project has stuck to its guns and continues to claim that it 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. We sometimes forget that these were people like us, who had loved ones and whose death was a personal tragedy. Mummification was an expression of the care taken to preserve a person for the afterlife,” added the Warsaw Mummy Project.

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