Usermontu: a remarkable Egyptian mummy known for its ancient metal orthopedic pin with advanced biomechanical principles

In 1971, the Rosicrucian Museum in California acquired two sealed ancient Egyptian coffins from Neiman-Marcus. One of the coffins contained a remarkably well-preserved mummy.

The man for whom the coffin had been inscribed was a priest named Usermontu, and current estimates are that he lived during Dynasty 18, 19 or 20 of the New Kingdom, a period often called “The Age of Empire”. This was a time of great prosperity, military conquest, and powerful pharaohs.


Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum of San Jose, California. 

The man for whom the coffin had been inscribed was a priest of the god Montu in Thebes, named Usermontu

More than two decades later, in 1998, a team of scientists from Brigham Young University led by professor C. Wilfred Griggs, Egyptologist and professor of ancient scripture, were conducting DNA research on the six resident mummies in the Museum, including the mummy of Usermontu.


In life, the man likely had red hair and his mummy would stand about 5 ft (1.5 m) tall. 

During the research, they made a shocking discovery: a 9-inch (23 cm) metal screw was found in the Usermontu’s left knee that connects the mummy’s thigh and lower leg, displaying evidence of an advanced surgical procedure carried out nearly 2,600 years ago.

It is believed that the man inside the coffin was a wealthy nobleman when he was alive because only the top 5% of the Egyptian population could afford the expensive mummification process.


Scientists found him lying in a well-preserved mummy of state.

 


The screw is now attracting worldwide attention because it is believed to be the first known example of ancient limb reattachment.

The scientific team found traces of ancient organic resin that held the pin in place, analogous to modern bone cement, as well as remnants of ancient fats and textiles.

Archeologists believe the priest was probably already dead when the pin was inserted. Never before has an Egyptian mummy anywhere exhibited such a characteristic.


Side view of the mummy. 

 

The mummy from Usermontu’s coffin is currently exhibited in the Afterlife Gallery (Gallery A) of the Rosicrucian Museum in California.

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