Scientists in Chicago opened an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, to reveal blackened toes that have remained hidden for nearly 2,500 years.
Coming from the Akhmim cemetery, on the east side of the Nile in Upper Egypt, the gold-painted, lavishly decorated sarcophagus was acquired by Chicago’s Field Museum in 1925.
According to the inscription on the coffin, the boy was named Minirdis. He was the son of Inaros, the hereditary stolist priest of Min, the Egyptian fertility god.
Indeed, Akhmim, located about 300 miles south of Cairo on the Nile, was one of ancient Egypt’s greatest cities and an important center of worship of Min.
As a stolist priest, Minirdis’s father was a powerful individual who was responsible for ritually washing and clothing the statue of the god.
“Minirdis would likely have inherited the office had he lived,” Field Museum curator J.P. Brown said.
The burial mask and the blackened toes are the only visible part of the mummy. The rest of the teenage body remained wrapped in a yellowing embalming cloth.
“The shroud, placed under the mask, but above the main wrappings, had been dragged to one side, carrying a painted cartonnage collar down under the mummy and this made removing the mummy quite difficult,” Brown said.
“The linen of the shroud and wrappings was quite brittle and this further complicated the operation,” he added.
Why Minirdis died so young is unknown.
According to Brown, he likely succumbed to some infectious disease or an organ failure.
“No evidence of malnutrition or disease is visible in the CT scan,” he said.