The Curious Discovery of the Buried Young Man with a Heart of Gold in Ancient Egypt

The Curious Discovery of the Buried Young Man with a Heart of Gold in Ancient Egypt
The Curious Discovery of the Buried Young Man with a Heart of Gold in Ancient Egypt

Found in 1916, intriguing mummy with a heart of gold was guarded for over a century

Éric Moreira, under the supervision of Thiago Lincolnins Published on 03/18/2023, at 7:00 pm

In Egypt, even today more and more mummies are discovered in excavations of places that have a long history to be told. However, in 1916 a group of researchers found a mummy that, more than a century later, would intrigue the scientific community.

The body, which would have belonged to a young man between the ages of 14 and 15, was kept guarded in the deposits of Cairo Egyptian Museum, along with dozens of other mummies, from the time it was found until more than a century later, without having been closely examined by specialists. The discovery was disclosed and covered by the press in January of this year.

It was only when a team led by sahar saleemfrom the University of Cairo, decided to check the mummy with a tomograph that finding finally intrigued everyone. This is because, from the images obtained, the researchers identified 49 amulets of 21 different types, many made of gold, on the boy’s body.

Thanks to this, in an article published in Frontiers in Medicine, the mummy was baptized as golden boy“, or “Golden Boy“. Check out more about the curious discovery.

Tomography showing a heart of gold in a mummy of a 14- to 15-year-old boy / Credit: Courtesy SN Saleem, SA Seddik, M. El-Halwagy

Golden Boy

Based on the tests, as reported by the , it was possible to determine that the teenager belonged to the upper class of ancient Egyptian society, because “he had healthy bones and teeth, with no signs of malnutrition or disease”. Besides, your mummification would have been of “high qualitywhich included the removal of the brain and viscera.”

However, what called the most attention was definitely not the social class to which the boy belonged. That’s because the images also showed that the shrouds that covered the teenager’s body hid an object next to the penis, in addition to a golden tongue in his mouth and a heart-like objectalso gold, below the thoracic cavity.

In the study, saleem explains that the population of Ancient Egypt had the custom of placing amulets next to their corpses to “protect and give vitality” to them in afterlife. “The golden tongue inside the mouth sought to ensure that the dead could speak in the afterlife”, he exemplified. In addition to these amulets, sandals, fern garlands and a golden mask were also identified next to the young man’s body.

Dating back to the late Ptolemaic period (332 BC – 30 AD), the mummy was found in the southern Egyptian city of Edfu. The body was protected by two sarcophagi, containing Greek inscriptions on the outside, and whose interior was made of wood.

“Golden Child” Sarcophagus / Credit: Courtesy SN Saleem, SA Seddik, M. El-Halwagy

Why the delay?

“Egypt underwent extensive excavations in the 19th and early 20th centuries that resulted in the discovery of thousands of preserved ancient bodies, many still wrapped and inside their coffins,” he says. sahar saleem, according to the BBC. “Since its opening in 1835, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo has served as a deposit for these finds and its basement is filled with many of these mummies that have been locked away for decades without being studied or displayed.”

Soon, as the number of discoveries was very large, and in the past dissection of these corpses was common — for both research and entertainment purposes — it took more than a century for the intriguing artifacts attached to the mummy to be discovered.

However, the latest technologies computed tomography allow these remains to be examined without being damagedallowing to deepen “more about the health, beliefs and abilities of humans in antiquity.”

Computed tomography represents a significant advance in radiology. Instead of using a single image, hundreds of projections of thin sections (sections) of the body can be combined to create a complete three-dimensional model.” sahar saleem in the search.

The article is in Portuguese

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