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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.

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