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Shedding new light on the 18th dynasty mummies of the royal architect kha and his spouse merit


Bianucci, Raffaella; Habicht, Michael E; Buckley, Stephen; Fletcher, Joann; Seiler, Roger; Öhrström, Lena M; Vassilika, Eleni; Böni, Thomas; Rühli, Frank J (2015). Shedding new light on the 18th dynasty mummies of the royal architect kha and his spouse merit. PLoS ONE, 10(7):e0131916.

Abstract

The mummies of Kha and his wife Merit were found intact in an undisturbed tomb in western Thebes near the ancient workers' village of Deir el-Medina. Previous MDCT (this abbreviation needs spelling out) investigations showed that the bodies of Kha and Merit did not undergo classical royal 18th Dynasty artificial mummification, which included removal of the internal organs. It was, therefore, concluded that the retention of the viscera in the body, combined with an absence of canopic jars in the burial chamber, meant the couple underwent a short and shoddy funerary procedure, despite their relative wealth at death. Nevertheless, all internal organs - brain, ocular bulbs/ocular nerves, thoracic and abdominal organs - showed a very good state of preservation, which contradicts the previous interpretation above. In order to better understand the type of mummification used to embalm these bodies, both wrapped mummies were reinvestigated using new generation X-ray imaging and chemical microanalyses Here we provide evidence that both individuals underwent a relatively high quality of mummification, fundamentally contradicting previous understanding. Elucidated "recipes", whose components had anti-bacterial and anti-insecticidal properties, were used to treat their bodies. The time and effort undoubtedly employed to embalm both Kha and Merit and the use of imported costly resins, notably Pistacia, do not support the previously held view that the two individuals were poorly mummified. Despite a lack of evisceration, the approach clearly allowed their in situ preservation as well as affording a fairly successful mummification.

Abstract

The mummies of Kha and his wife Merit were found intact in an undisturbed tomb in western Thebes near the ancient workers' village of Deir el-Medina. Previous MDCT (this abbreviation needs spelling out) investigations showed that the bodies of Kha and Merit did not undergo classical royal 18th Dynasty artificial mummification, which included removal of the internal organs. It was, therefore, concluded that the retention of the viscera in the body, combined with an absence of canopic jars in the burial chamber, meant the couple underwent a short and shoddy funerary procedure, despite their relative wealth at death. Nevertheless, all internal organs - brain, ocular bulbs/ocular nerves, thoracic and abdominal organs - showed a very good state of preservation, which contradicts the previous interpretation above. In order to better understand the type of mummification used to embalm these bodies, both wrapped mummies were reinvestigated using new generation X-ray imaging and chemical microanalyses Here we provide evidence that both individuals underwent a relatively high quality of mummification, fundamentally contradicting previous understanding. Elucidated "recipes", whose components had anti-bacterial and anti-insecticidal properties, were used to treat their bodies. The time and effort undoubtedly employed to embalm both Kha and Merit and the use of imported costly resins, notably Pistacia, do not support the previously held view that the two individuals were poorly mummified. Despite a lack of evisceration, the approach clearly allowed their in situ preservation as well as affording a fairly successful mummification.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:05 Aug 2015 10:20
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 13:37
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0131916
PubMed ID:26200778

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