Tuesday, March 10, 2009

X-Raying Pharaohs

This 1973 book is by James E. Harris and Kent R. Weeks, the first third of the book are images of some of the royal mummies including x-ray images accompanied by descriptions of those images. Perhaps the most important x-rays in the book are of the mummy of Amenhotep I which show beside a beaded belt but more important is the x-ray seems to confirm that the Kings arms were originally crossed over his chest.

Also very interesting are both the photo and x-ray of the lady Imenit found in the nineteenth century buried at the Deir el Bahari mortuary temple of the eleventh dynasty King Mentuhotep II. The x-rays of the mummy long wrongfully associated with Thutmosis I failed to show the arrow we now know is in the mummies chest.

The project was founded by the University of Michigan's school of dentistry in 1965 in an effort to see the evolution of dentition over thousands of years. The project was begun using thousands of subjects who's remains were being excavated in the Sudan before the flooding of the Aswan high damn and culminated in the x-raying of almost all the mummies in the Cairo museum including the royal mummies.

The author then goes on to discuss mummification and the history of tomb robbing and the path the royal mummies took in ancient history before being placed into the caches they were discovered in in the late nineteenth century.

Mr. Weeks goes on in chronological order to describe the royal mummies their reigns and their mummies and what the x-rays show about the bodies. The photos and x-rays are an excellent resource and the information on the x-rays is interesting though the chronology was basic information.

As a collector of Egyptian books this is a must have but as history it is so so and truly it is the images that make this the must have book.

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