Scientists managed to convey the facial features of a woman, including her nose, cheeks and even lips. However, the color of her skin and her eyes has not yet been reliably determined.
Shep-en-Isis is an Egyptian mummy that has been kept since 1820 in the Swiss Library of the monastery of St. Gall. After spending several months, scientists at the FAPAB research center in Sicily successfully reconstructed the mummy's face using modern forensic techniques, writes Ancient Origins.
The story of Shep-en-IsisThe coffin of Shep-en-Isis was found in the southern part of the funerary temple of Pharaoh Hatshepsut in the Deir el-Bahri valley, on the western bank of the Nile River. Mortuary temples were built by pharaohs so that people would worship them after death.
Shep-en-Isis was found in a family tomb located inside the temple, along with her father Pa-es-tjenfi, whose mummy is kept in Berlin. Shep-en-Isis was one of the first Egyptian mummies acquired by Switzerland, and shortly after its arrival in 1820, it was put on public display.
This well-preserved mummy with an exquisite sarcophagus soon became a major attraction, in fact quickly reaching the status of Switzerland's most popular mummy. However, in addition to this, she also became the object of various studies.
The study of the embalmed body for two centuries showed that the woman lived in the 7th century BC. during the XXVI dynasty (between 685 and 525 BC), the last period of glory of Ancient Egypt.
"Based on the anatomical age of Shep-en-Isis and the decoration of the inner sarcophagus, she must have been born around 650 BC and died between 620 and 610 BC," said Egyptologist Michael Habicht from the University of Zurich.
The inscriptions on her coffin testified that she belonged to a wealthy upper-class family and came from the family of the high priests of Amun (the highest title among the priests of the ancient Egyptian god Amun) in Thebes. Judging by her family background, she probably received an education. However, many years of research did not allow to establish the identity and profession of her husband, as well as whether she had children.
Restoring the appearance of a mummy
Along with historical documents and research data, the FAPAB team had a set of computer topographic images available in the library, and morphological data that could be used for facial reconstruction.
Brazilian specialist Cicero Morais, who is a 3D designer and is known in this field for his reconstructions of the faces of historical figures such as Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ, was brought in to work on the project.
Morias modeled the facial muscles, as well as adipose tissue of the mummy. The skin, in turn, was added in accordance with the previously established soft tissue thickness at certain anatomical points.
The best-preserved feature of the mummified body was a full set of slightly protruding teeth. All this, along with a harmonious and well-proportioned skull, suggests that during her lifetime Shep-en-Isis was most likely a beautiful young woman.
How close to reality is the reconstruction of the mummy's face?
Morais and his team focused solely on reconstructing the appearance and anatomical details without adding decorations, clothing or hair. And all due to the fact that such accessories are based on assumptions, not facts.
Answering questions about how close to the original, in his opinion, the results of the work done, Habicht noted that the reconstruction The face follows statistical and anatomical data. Facial features correspond to reality, keeping the shape of the face, nose, cheeks and lips. However, the team had to resort to some guesswork when it came to skin and eye color.
But during another study scientists were able to find out how the fetus of a pregnant Egyptian mummy, 2,000 years old, was preserved. As it turned out, the whole thing was in an unusual chemical process, as a result of which the fetus was "pickled" and locked in time.