CT imaging of an Egyptian mummy

Hughes, Stephen W. (1993) CT imaging of an Egyptian mummy. British Journal of Non-destructive Testing, 35(7), pp. 369-374.


Over the last few years various research groups around the world have employed X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) imaging in the study of mummies – Toronto-Boston (1,2), Manchester(3). Prior to the development of CT scanners, plane X-rays were used in the investigation of mummies. Xeroradiography has also been employed(4). In a xeroradiograph, objects of similar X-ray density (very difficult to see on a conventional X-ray) appear edge-enhanced and so are seen much more clearly. CT scanners became available in the early 1970s. A CT scanner produces cross-sectional X-rays of objects. On a conventional X-radiograph individual structures are often very difficult to see because all the structures lying in the path of the X-ray beam are superimposed, a problem that does not occur with CT. Another advantage of CT is that the information in a series of consecutive images may be combined to produce a three-dimensional reconstruction of an object. Slices of different thickness and magnification may be chosen. Why CT a mummy? Prior to the availability of CT scanners, the only way of finding out about the inside of a mummy in any detail was to unwrap and dissect it. This has been done by various research groups – most notably the Manchester, UK and Pennsylvania University, USA mummy projects(5,6). Unwrapping a mummy and carrying out an autopsy is obviously very destructive. CT studies hold the possibility of producing a lot more information than is possible from plain X-rays and are able to show the undisturbed arrangement of the wrapped body. CT is also able to provide information about the internal structure of bones, organ packs, etc that wouldn’t be possible without sawing through the bones etc. The mummy we have scanned is encased in a coffin which would have to have been broken open in order to remove the body.

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5 citations in Scopus
2 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 30126
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Egypt, mummy, CT scanning, xeroradiography, 3D reconstruction
ISSN: 0007-1137
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > ARCHAEOLOGY (210100) > Archaeological Science (210102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > ARCHAEOLOGY (210100)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1993 British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing
Deposited On: 01 Feb 2010 01:23
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 14:20

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