‘Golden Boy’ mummy reveals its secrets and 49 hidden charms

With her help computed tomographyscientists recently managed to digitally “unwrap” the mummy of a teenage boy who died about 2,300 years and belonged to a higher social class. According to the statement issued by the team of researchers from Cairo University, the “golden boy” (as the mummy is nicknamed) was buried with 49 amulets of 21 different typesplaced on or inside his body.

Many of these amulets were made of gold, including a gold one “scarab of the heart” which had been placed inside the chest cavity, and of a “golden tongue” inside the boy’s mouth. A “two-finger amulet” was found next to the teenager’s uncircumcised penis, while many other items revealed by the CT scanner reflect the customs and beliefs of Ptolemaic Egyptians regarding death and what follows.

The Ancient Egyptians they believed that when a man dies, his spirit body seeks a after life, similar to this world. However, the transition to this life was not guaranteed, since it had to be preceded by a dangerous journey to the underworld and a judgment process for the deceased. For this reason, relatives and embalmers in Ancient Egypt did everything they could to ensure that their departed loved ones made it to their destination successfully.


As noted in the announcement, the large number of amulets revealed by the CT scan on the mummy shows how important this type of burial artefact was during the Ptolemaic period. “Here we show the extensive adornment of this mummy consisting of 49 amulets, beautifully placed in a unique arrangement of three columns, either between the folds of the fabric or within the cavities of the body. These include the Eye of Horus, the scarab, the Aket amulet of the horizon, the Knot of Isis, etc. Many are made of gold, and others of semi-precious stones, clay or faience. Their purpose was to protect the body in the afterlife, giving it vitalityexplains Dr. Sahar Salim, authors of the study published in Frontiers in Medicine and professor at the Cairo University School of Medicine.


Sandals for the… road to the afterlife

The mummy of the “Golden Boy” was found in 1916 in a cemetery that was used between 332-30 BC. in the Nag el-Hasai of southern Egypt. Before it became the subject of the present study and its “secrets” were revealed, the mummy remained stored in the basement of the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.

The “Golden Boy” was discovered lying inside two coffins, one outer with a Greek inscription and an interior wooden sarcophagus. A gilded face mask, a breastplate made of papyrus and plaster, and a pair of sandals were the “garment” chosen for the young man. In addition to the heart, the entrails had been removed from the body through an incision, while the brain had been extracted from the nose and replaced with resin.


“They probably put sandals on the boy to help him walk out of the coffin. According to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the deceased had to wear white sandals to be purified before reciting the verses of the ritual,” Salim points out.

A CT scan showed the boy was 1.28m tall, had not been circumcised and appeared to have died of natural causes. From the density of the bones and the examination of the teeth (which were in very good condition), the experts concluded that it was between 14 and 15 years old when he passed away.

Wreaths of fern were placed on the outer surface of the mummy. “The Ancient Egyptians found plants fascinating and believed they possessed mystical powers. During the burial they placed next to the deceased a bouquet of plants and flowers… they also offered plants to the deceased when they visited the grave on holidays» the professor notes, among other things.

The mystical meaning of amulets

Each of the amulets placed on the mummy has its own meaning. For example, the “golden tongue” found in the mouth was intended to ensure the ability to speak in the afterlife. The “two-finger amulet” next to his mole was a “protection” from the embalming incision. THE “knot of isis” enlisted the powers of the goddess of the same name to protect the body. An amulet on the right ankle brought balance, while the falcon and ostrich feathers represented the material and spiritual worlds.


Special mention is made of him golden scarab found in the chest cavity. “The golden scarab is mentioned in chapter 30 of the Book of the Dead: it was very important during the process of judging the dead and weighing the heart against the wing of the goddess Maat. The amulet of the “scarab of the heart” silenced the heart on Judgment Day so that its testimony would not count against the dead. It was placed in place of the heart during the mummification process“, explains the professor.

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