CT reveals Queen Nefertiti’s nose job

April 8, 2009

Plastic surgery may have some early roots. German physicians have scanned the bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt with CT, showing marked differences between an inner core -- that more accurately depicts the queen -- and the outer layer where her nose bump is smoothed and her wrinkles are erased.

Plastic surgery may have some early roots. German physicians have scanned the bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt with CT, showing marked differences between an inner core -- that more accurately depicts the queen -- and the outer layer where her nose bump is smoothed and her wrinkles are erased.

   



Dr. Alexander Huppertz, director of the Imaging Science Institute in Berlin, and colleagues, rescanned the bust of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten's wife, revealing differences between the limestone core and the stucco surface.

  



The face of the core, created by royal sculptor Thutmose, was very delicately carved and appeared highly symmetric. It could have been a realistic portrait of the queen, according to the researchers (Radiology 2009;251:233-240).

The eyelids on the outer face have more depth and appear more 3D than the inner core. The creases around the corners of the mouth and cheeks were smoothed on the outer surface along with a bump on the queen's nose. The outer surface also gives Nefertiti more prominent cheekbones. The alterations reflect the aesthetics of the time, according to the researchers.

Although the bust was examined with single-slice CT in 1992, researchers decided to interrogate it with 64-slice to capitalize on the submillimeter slice thicknesses possible with current CT technology.

In addition to finding differences between the inner and outer cores, CT found fissures in the shoulders, lower surface of the bust, and rear of the crown, which indicate vulnerable areas that require careful handling.

The bust was discovered in 1912. It is part of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin's collection and will move to Berlin's recently restored New Museum in October.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging and SearchMedica archives:

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