3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummies Virtually Unwrapped For The First Time

Posted: Dec 8 2016, 2:23pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummies Virtually Unwrapped for the First Time
A 3D image of an Egyptian mummy using CT scan
 

New scanning technology exposes the mysteries embalmed thousand of years ago

One of the ultimate symbols of ancient Egypt, centuries old mummies still hold fascination for scientists. 

To unravel the hidden secrets of Egyptian mummies, researchers have recently used cutting –edge scanning technology and reconstructed the physical features of six mummies, dating back to 3,000 years. The mummies were brought from the British Museum for an exhibition at Australia's Sydney Powerhouse museum but they were never physically unwrapped as those remains were fragile and easily damaged.

The ‘virtual unwrapping’ is probably a safe and respectful way to look into embalmed figures and to uncover the mysteries buried inside the ancient coffins or sarcophagus.

“We are revealing details of all their physical remains as well as the embalming material used by the embalmers like never before,” British Museum's physical anthropology curator Daniel Antoine said in a statement.

“What we are showing to the public is brand-new discoveries of their insides.”

The mummies include a married woman, a temple singer, a priest and a two year old child, who lived in ancient Egypt between 900BC and 140-180AD. Researchers put each of mummy through the computed topography scanner and obtained thousands of slices of images. Then, they piece them together to recreate 3D models.

The non invasive technology allowed experts and visitors to virtually peel back the layers and to feel what it was like to live along the Nile River thousands of years ago. In the past, the only way to observe and analyze mummies was to unwrap them, which always ended up losing their pristine state.

Researchers believe that the scanning technology can also help find more about their state of health, the diseases they were suffering from and the nature of their deaths. The scanning of one of the mummies, a priest’s daughter, had already revealed the signs of plague in her arteries.

“I’ve been able to image the arteries of the mummies, the ones that have been left and I’m able to look at whether they are suffering from diseases which many people are suffering from today, (such as) cardiovascular diseases,” said Antoine.

“We hope in the future to image the soft tissues at the cellular level to look at whether there’s any changes or to find evidence, for example, of cardiovascular diseases but also things like cancer.”

The exhibition will open on December 10 and run until April next year.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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