CT Scan Reveals Valuable Information Inside Intact Mummies

An anthropologist and researcher, Danielle Kurin, PhD has led and participated in numerous projects in the Andes as a bioarchaeologist. In this role, Danielle Kurin oversees excavations and analyses of human remains found at various sites in Peru and Bolivia. Among those remains are mummies.

A mummy is the body of a human or animal that has been preserved after death — either by chance or through an ancient artificial preservation practice called mummification. In some regions, where the conditions are very dry, some bodies may mummify naturally and be interred along with ritual items often assuring a safe trip to an afterworld, and survival in it.. In other societies, mummies may require a lengthy preparation process involving washing the dead body, removing internal organs, filling spaces within the body with stuffing, and drying the body by covering it with a salty substances.

Many ancient civilizations, including some in ancient Europe, Australia, and Africa, practiced mummification. However, the most widely-known examples of mummification as a religious practice to honor the dead are probably the mummies of ancient Egypt.

In 1894, an Egyptian mummy called “the Gilded lady,” made from the remains of a woman who was estimated to have lived between 30 BCE and 395 BCE, was taken to the Chicago Field Museum. Until recently, the mummy was left untouched. Recently, non-invasive CT scans were conducted to view the bones and skin layer by layer without harming the remains, through which important information including gender and age (40-year-old female), and hair type (curly hair) were revealed.

Printed 3D images from the scan were also used to recreate her skull, which was used to forensically reconstruct a statue portraying what the woman may have looked like. In addition, evidence from the study suggested that the woman might have died of tuberculosis, which was a prevalent disease during that period.

Originally published at http://daniellekurin.home.blog on January 12, 2021.




Dr. Danielle Kurin — Anthropology Professor and Researcher at UCSB.

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Danielle Kurin

Danielle Kurin

Dr. Danielle Kurin — Anthropology Professor and Researcher at UCSB.

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