Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi undergo CT scans in Jerusalem hospital to reveal craft
Israel Museum expert says CT scans offer best way to examine how coffins, including one almost 3,000 years old, were made and decorated
Two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi underwent CT scans at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center Sunday as part of a study into how artists created the elaborate coffins for interring mummified bodies.
The sarcophagi, which date back over 2,500 years, are made from sycamore wood and decorated with hieroglyphics and pictures.
Teams from the hospital and the Israel Museum spent some five months planning the delicate operation to transport the objects from the museum to the central Jerusalem hospital.
“In order to understand what’s hidden under the artwork, there are two options. We can remove the artwork, which we don’t want to do, or we can conduct a CT scan, and through that, see what is happening underneath it,” Nir Or Lev, curator of Egyptian Archeology at the Israel Museum, told Channel 13 news.
The oldest that arrived at the hospital was almost 3,000 years old and belonged to a woman named Jed-Mot, a ceremonial singer to the ancient god Amun-Ra. The other, dating from the 7th to 4th century BCE, belonged to Petah-Hotep, an Egyptian nobleman, researchers said.
The tests allowed researchers to peek between the layers of wood, plaster and other materials the coffins are made from. Complete results will only be available in a few weeks, once studies have been concluded.
“Never in my professional life have I been able to do something like this,” Shlomi Hazan, the chief radiologist at Shaare Zedek, told Channel 13.