CT Scan Shows Mummy Inside 1000-Year-Old Buddha

Posted: Feb 24 2015, 7:31am CST | by , Updated: Feb 24 2015, 7:40am CST , in Technology News


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CT Scan shows Mummy inside 1000-Year-Old Buddha
Credit: Drents Museum

The Buddhist Mummy was scanned in Netherland for research purposes under the supervision of art expert Erik Brujin at the Meander Medical Center.

A 1000 years old statute containing a mummy received a CT scan last September in Netherlands. The 11th or 12th century statute depicts a mediating Buddha with a mummy enclosed inside. The statue is a Chinese Buddhist mummy and reached Netherlands last September. It was the first time the Chinese coffer relic was allowed out of China for an exhibition and the first Chinese Buddhist mummy made available for scientific study purposes.

The statue was part of the Mummies Exhibition at the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands and it ran from May to August. Some news sources have incompetently described the presence of the mummy in the statue as a stunning discovery however it was already known the statue contained the mummy, and therefore it was part of the ‘Mummies Exhibition’.

After the exhibition the mummy was subsequently scanned at Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort under the supervision of Buddhist art expert Erik Brujin. The CT scan was carried out by a collaboration team of medical and archaeological professionals such as Radiologist Ben Heggelman and gastrointestinal and liver disease specialist Raynald Vermeijden on the 6th of September.

Credit: Jan van Esch / Meander Medisch Centrum

Heggelman ran the statue on its back through the CT scanner and took samples of bone tissue for DNA analysis and Vermeijden used an endoscope to sample material from the mummy’s thoracic and abdominal cavities. The only surprise finding by the research team at the Meander Medical Centre, was the presence of stuffed pieces of paper with Chinese writing on them in places where the organs were supposed to be in the exoskeleton of the mummy.

The mummy is believed to be the mummified body of the Buddhist master Liuquan, who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School, Buddhism who died around died around 1100 A.D. Chinese Buddhist practiced a form of self-mummification process which involved starving and dehydrating themselves to attaining spiritual insight by leaving an honest corpse behind.

After 2000 days of starving and eating herbs that repel insects for the process of mummification the monk would be sealed in a tomb for 3 more years with only a tube for air until they are alive. If after being enclosed in a tomb, if the monk had died and undergone mummification they would be dressed and placed at the altar believing the mummy to have joined Buddha.

The outcomes of the CT and subsequent research will be published in an article at a future date. The exhibition is now residing in the Hungarian Natural History Museum until May 2015. Then the exhibition will be relocated to Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and will finally concluding in Wales by 2018.

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