A team of scientists at Northwestern University are studying an ancient Egyptian mummy from the Roman era. And they’re using a groundbreaking technique that’s never been tried before. The mummified remains are those of a five-year-old girl who died 1,800 years ago. Moreover, among other things, the researchers want to find out how the child died.
Egyptians, at least those of high birth, had been mummifying their dead for centuries, but the way they did so during the Roman imperial era from about the first to the third century A.D. had its own particular characteristics. The most striking of those was the practice of inserting a board with a painted likeness of the deceased over the face.
The earliest examples of Egyptian mummification we know about date back about 4,800 years. The motivation for the practice was a religious belief that it would lead to a better life after death. As well as mummifying bodies, the Egyptians also built incredibly elaborate tombs. This culminated in the Great Pyramids at Giza, which were burial places for pharaohs.