Getting By On Her Looks
The ancient Egyptian Meresamun, who lived around 800 B.C., was a working girl, a priestess-musician who served Amun, the preeminent deity of Thebes. Her mummified remains, sealed 2,800 years ago in a skintight coffin of cartonnage (layers of linen and plaster), were examined by researchers at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute in September 2008 using the latest in CT scanning technology, a "256-slice" machine that produced startlingly vivid images. For months, she has since been the immensely popular subject of the Oriental Institute Museum's exhibition, The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt.
Josh Harker, a forensic artist who lives in Chicago and was originally trained as a sculptor, worked digitally, leveraging the latest software and imaging technology.
Ancient Egyptian records talk about the ideal sense of womanly beauty. "A lot of the descriptions are about breasts and hips and coal-black hair," says [Egyptologist at the Oriental Institute Museum, Emily] Teeter [...curator of the Meresamun exhibition.] "But they do talk about sweet lips for kissing--and Meresamun's got very sweet lips!"