Meet the Gilded Lady. She lived in Egypt about 2,000 years ago. Scientists say she probably died of lung disease. They think she was in her 40s.
How do scientists know so much? They looked into the case in which she was sealed . But they did not open it. They used a machine that can see through it. The machine is called a CT scanner. It takes X-ray pictures of a mummy without unwrapping it.
Technology has changed the way we study mummies. Long ago, scientists unwrapped them. But that damaged them. “We just don’t do that anymore,” says David Hurst Thomas. He is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in New York City. “We can do so much better.”
Messages from the Past
Why did ancient Egyptians mummify their dead? They believed their ancestors would live on in a world after death. That’s why Egyptians preserved the Gilded Lady’s body. They thought she would see, hear, taste, and smell with the help of her golden mask.
Pictures taken with a CT scanner gave scientists clues about what the Gilded Lady looked like. A scan of her skull showed that she had an overbite . Another scan showed that she had curly hair. An artist used this information to make a sculpture of the Gilded Lady.
Ellen Futter is the president of AMNH. She calls mummies “messengers from another time.” With the help of technology, we will continue to unwrap mummies’ secrets.
How Mummies Were Made
In Egypt, rulers and wealthy people were mummified after death. Here’s what it takes to make a mummy.
1. Wash the body.
2. Remove the internal organs.
3. Pack the body in salt. This dries it out.
4. After 40 days, remove the salt.
5. Stuff the body with rags to give it shape.
6. Wrap the body in linen.