Lady Rai: The Ancient Mummy Who Defied Time with Evidence of Atherosclerosis
Let’s look at another mummy found in the Deir el-bahri cache, who may be one of the “most perfect examples of embalming…from the time of the early 18th Dynasty.”
Lady Rai was an ancient Egyptian woman from the early 18th Dynasty. Little is known about her life, but she served as a nursemaid to Queen Ahmose- Nefertari. We have no evidence of her parentage, but she was no doubt from some elite family as she was most likely buried in the elite burials in Deir el-bahri and Thebes.
Lady Rai’s original tomb is not known, but it was most likely looted in antiquity, which is why she was reburied in the cache in Deir el-bahri. She was originally buried in two coffins, but it seems her outer coffin is all that was preserved. but Rai’s body was not found inside it.
The only personal belongings of Lady Rai that have been found was a single barrel-shaped carnelian bead on her right wrist. This is just a fraction of what Rai’s jewelry was before.
As I mentioned previously, G. Elliot Smith called Lady Rai’s mummy one of the most perfect examples of 18th Dynasty embalming and “the least unlovely” of the existing female mummies. Smith unwrapped the mummy on June 26th, 1909. Rai was a slim woman only about 4 foot 11 inches. She was estimated to be about 30 or 40 years old when she died around 1530 b.C.E.
Her scalp retained abundant amounts of what appears to be her own hair, not a wig, which would have been more common. This was styled in tightly plaited groups of braids down to her chest. Rai’s teeth only had slight wear. In 2009, the mummy was CAT scanned, which revealed that she had a diseased aortic arch and thus the oldest known mummy with evidence of atherosclerosis.