Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II’s Face Comes Alive Using CT Scans
by Ashley Dreiling
Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled for 66 years during the Nineteenth Dynasty and may have been the pharaoh who persecuted the Israelites in the Bible’s Book of Exodus, is often portrayed as a handsome man.
Thanks to advancements in science and technology, we have realistic images of how Ramesses II looked in his prime around age 45.
To recreate the pharaoh’s face, the head of radiology at Cairo University Dr. Sahar Saleem, an Egyptian mummy expert, and the Face Lab at Liverpool John Moores University started with CT scans of his mummy taken between 2005 and 2009. Specialized software used the scans and created a 3D model of the pharaoh’s head.
“The software identifies the properties of the various layers of materials on the mummy’s face, such as overlying linen bandages, and allows for the digital unwrapping of the pharaohs,” Dr. Saleem told Auntminnieineurope. “The visualization of fine facial features such as ear piercings and hairstyle was also made possible by modern image reconstruction software.”
Next, the Face Lab, using software designed for forensic investigations, added layers of muscle and tissue onto the mummy’s bones, revealing a surprisingly accurate facial image. The team got extra help from clues preserved during Ramesses II’s mummification such as hair patterns, and Egyptology experts for skin, eye, and hair colors.
Not a bad looker for someone born more than 3,000 years ago.