Noblewomen Mummy's Face Revealed After 3,000 Years
face of an Egyptian noblewoman who died more than 3,000
years ago has been recreated by a scientist working from
a mummy found in a pharaoh's tomb.
from a hospital computer scan of the shrivelled mummy,
Dr Wilkinson, from Manchester University's Unit of Art
in Medicine, has recreated a face last seen more than
1,000 years before the birth of Cleopatra. Dr Wilkinson
said: "It's been a great privilege and very exciting.
Now, at last, we are able to put a face to the mummy,
to see what she actually looked like."
"Lady X" by scientists because no one knows
her real name, the mummy was found in the Valley of the
Kings in Luxor. When she was found is undocumented. She
has been in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo for the past
60 years. She is thought to have been buried with full
royal honours in the tomb of King Seti II, who ruled from
about 1204 BC to 1198 BC.
Wilkinson said: "She's an enigma. No one knows how
she died, but from the amount of wear on her teeth we
can say she was probably in her forties. We know she was
high born, because there is a thin layer of gold dust
over her eyelids."
Wilkinson, whose previous successes have included recreating
the faces of unidentified bodies for the police, worked on
Lady X as part of a joint Egyptian, Dutch and British team.
The mummy was taken from the museum to Cairo's New Kasr-el-Aini
Hospital and given a computer tomography (CT) scan. The scanner,
normally used to detect cancers and other diseases, surveyed
the head in 223 slices, each one a millimetre thick.
Wilkinson said: "A computer translated each slice of
the CT information into three dimensions, and used lasers
to cut a wax resin copy of the skull. I could then work with
the model skull, and the soft tissue information from the
added: "You build the muscles of the face on to the skull
one by one in clay. I used sets of average tissue depth data
to give me a guide to the amount I should put on the face.
The whole process takes a week. I think she's got quite a
strong face, quite characterful, but I wouldn't say she has
got Cleopatra's nose or anything like that."
X's face will now be displayed alongside her mummy in the
Egyptian Museum of Cairo. The project has inspired Dr Wilkinson
to consider reconstructing the face of possibly the most famous
pharaoh: Tutankhamun. She said: "Tutankhamun has a beautiful
face on the gold mask he was buried with. As to how idealised
that is, I don't know. It would be great to find out."