Thursday, November 01, 2007

3000 year old mummy scanned

Secrets that had been kept under wraps for nearly 3,000 years were unravelled in seconds when an Egyptian mummy underwent a CT scan at a London hospital.

The mummy slowly entered the state-of-the-art scanner at Victoria Hospital Monday night.

About a dozen researchers from different fields watched the mummy's skeletal image emerge on a computer screen. The image is shown at right.

"That's a nice spine. It's in pretty good shape," said Gayle Gibson of the Royal Ontario Museum.

The scan showed the mummy was four-foot-nine. The average height for women in 950 BC, when the mummy is believed to have died, was just under five feet, Gibson said.

Men were, on average, about five-foot-three.

The mummy lived at a "hard time" when there were invasions, changing dynasties and droughts, she said.

The mummy's gender will be determined during the next few months, said Andrew Nelson, a University of Western Ontario anthropologist.

The brain wasn't removed through its nostrils -- as it was often done in the mummification process -- but the organs were removed, typical of that time, he said.

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