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Modern Technology and Ancient Secrets
Modern imaging technology allows scientists and Egyptologists to conduct non-invasive analysis of mummies. CAT scan software generated these fascinating images and animations of our resident mummy. Some 25,000 images were generated as part of the CAT scan analysis. A team of experts then interpreted the results and are able to tell us a number of things about our mummy.

The mummy had to be transported from the Museum of Science to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for the CAT scan.

 View a slideshow of the expedition
See an animationSee a rotating view of our mummy's skull.*

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Mummy's skull  Mummy's skull
The mummy's strong jaw was one of the key
factors identifying him as male.

CAT Scan Although it was common for people to have their brain removed as part of the mummification process, our mummy has its brain in place. It simply dried out and shrank with the rest of the body during desiccation. If they had tried to remove it, a break in the thin bone between the nose and the skull (here marked by the red arrow) would be visible.

The decomposition of the body would also explain why the internal organs were not also mummified and placed within the body cavity. By 500 BCE, canopic jars only served a symbolic purpose. Tomb raids, which were common, frequently resulted in destroyed canopic jars and internal organs. Internal organs were then mummified and placed within the body cavity.

Initially, the twist in the spine was thought to have been the cause of death of the mummy — leaving an Ancient murder mystery on our hands. However, if the spine had sustained that level of damage while the person was alive, other injuries would be evident. Vertebrae, ribs, shoulders, arms, or skull would have suffered breaks. All of these bones, however, are intact, other than being out of place. This led the experts to the conclusion that the trauma was inflicted after death.

The twisted spine and rib cage indicate that the body had likely begun to decompose before mummification began.The first parts of the body to putrefy (the ones tastiest to bugs) are the meaty torso and abdomen. If the flesh had begun to disintegrate, the spine and vertebrae would not have held together very well. The person doing the mummification would have done his best to make the mummy look good from the outside, disregarding the alignment of the bones.
CAT Scan image
Click image to see more detail.

Mummy's pelvis   Mummy's pelvis The mummy's pelvis is unhinged from the spine. This is likely caused by the flesh putrefying prior to mummification and there not being enough soft tissue to hold the bones together in the torso and abdomen area.

The hazy area below the four fingers is the part of the bone in the thumb that is reconstituting itself after a break. It is a recent injury, most likely, since it was still healing when he died. Our mummy had otherwise very strong and healthy bones. Mummy's hand

The team
Click image to enlarge.
A team made up of doctors, a CAT scan technician, an Egyptologist and a number of people from the Museum of Science worked together to piece together a picture of who this mummy was and what his lifestyle might have been. Left: Dawn Weeks, Senior Technologist CT - 3D Advanced Imaging Lab, Mimi Leveque, Conservator, and Vassilios Raptopoulos, M.D. review the results of the CAT scan together.

The team's combined expertise allowed us to view and interpret the condition of the person who died. From his bone structure we recognized a male, likely in his late 20s, who was not a hard laborer. Leveque's knowledge of Ancient Egypt made it possible to interpret that this person was likely a professional of the time: a Scribe, or Priest.

Decoding the past is always a team effort. From handling the mummy to transporting it to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, to observing the images and drawing conclusion, many people offered their time to help us bring together these stunning images and fascinating conclusions.

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