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Multidetector Computed Tomographic Study of Amulets, Jewelry, and Other Foreign Objects in Royal Egyptian Mummies Dated From the 18th to 20th Dynasties

Saleem, Sahar N. MBBCh, MSc, MD*; Hawass, Zahi PhD

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: March/April 2014 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 153–158
doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e3182ab2221
Special Article

Objective: The objective of this study was to study the role of multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) in the analysis of foreign objects found within or on the royal Egyptian mummies.

Methods: We studied MDCT images of 15 royal Egyptian mummies (1493-1156 BC) for the presence of foreign objects. We studied each found object for its location, morphology, dimensions, and density in correlation with the archeologic literature.

Results: We detected 14 objects in 6 mummies: a heart amulet, 3 Eye of Horus, 4 Sons of Horus, a crowned-Osiris amulet, 2 bracelets, 2 sets of beads/stones, and an arrowhead that may be linked to injury. The MDCT images suggested the material of the objects to be metal (n = 6), semiprecious stone (n = 1), quartzlike (faience) (n = 2), and fired clay (n = 5). Placement of an amulet within the heart supports our knowledge that its funeral purpose was meant for the purpose of protection.

Conclusions: Multidetector computed tomography offers a detailed noninvasive analysis of objects on/in mummies and differentiates funerary objects from those that may be related to cause of death.

*Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kasr Al Ainy; and †Ministry of State for Antiquities, Egypt, Cairo.

Received for publication October 10, 2013; accepted October 12, 2013.

Reprints: Sahar N. Saleem, MBBCh, MSc, MD, 4 St, 49 Mokattam, 11571, Cairo, Egypt (e-mail:

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins