SEP 01, 2020 7:07 AM PDT

Revealing a Mummy's Secrets With High-Resolution Scans

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Researchers have used a technique called micro–computer tomography (micro-CT) scanning to analyze mummified animals. The tool creates three-dimensional images like those seen in the video by merging thousands of two-dimensional images taken from many different angles. Fine details can be revealed at a much higher resolution than a CT scan, without even risking damage to the specimens.

In ancient Egypt, animals were offered to gods at their temples. It's been estimated that as many as 70 million of these animals were prepared by temple priests. All of the animals in this study are thought to have been ritual sacrifices.

"Using micro-CT we can effectively carry out a post-mortem on these animals, more than 2,000 years after they died in ancient Egypt. With a resolution up to 100 times higher than a medical CT scan, we were able to piece together new evidence of how they lived and died, revealing the conditions they were kept in, and possible causes of death," said Professor Richard Johnston of Swansea University College of Engineering.

"These are the very latest scientific imaging techniques. Our work shows how the hi-tech tools of today can shed new light on the distant past," he added.

An analysis of the scans indicated that the feline mummy was probably a young domestic Egyptian cat under 5 months of age, as it still had baby teeth. Below its jaw was a fracture that may show its neck was broken at or just before the time of death.

 Inside the mummy - coiled remains of an Egyptian Cobra, undisturbed for thousands of years. / Credit: Swansea University

The bird was probably a Eurasian kestrel. It had damage to its beak and leg, though the leg had been found outside of its wrappings. That may indicate that the damage happened after it died.

The snake was a tightly coiled, Egyptian cobra, coiled into a tight bundle. The researchers suggested that it was killed in a common but extremely violent way, in which the animals' heads were whipped against the ground by a person holding its tail. Its body also showed signs that it lived in poor conditions and was dehydrated when it died.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Swansea University, Scientific Reports

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Green Genetic Technology Can Help Feed the World
NOV 30, 2020
Green Genetic Technology Can Help Feed the World
In the latter half of the last century, agriculture underwent a technological revolution that enabled farmers to create ...
DEC 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
Could CBD be a food preservative?
DEC 31, 2020
Could CBD be a food preservative?
CBD (cannbidiol) oil from has many claims made for it — and now lengthening the shelf life of fresh fruit could fe ...
JAN 29, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The surprising sex lives of lichen
JAN 29, 2021
The surprising sex lives of lichen
Just like eavesdropping neighbors, scientists from Quebec's Université-Laval are peeping in on the shocking s ...
JAN 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Invasive species reduce water resources in Ethiopia
JAN 30, 2021
Invasive species reduce water resources in Ethiopia
An invasive evergreen tree, known as Prosopis juliflora, is quite the thirsty species. Prosopis has taken over large swa ...
FEB 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
FEB 09, 2021
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
Many ocean species use sound to communicate and survive. Sound is a crucial communication method since vision is limited ...
MAR 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
MAR 26, 2021
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
The east coast is preparing for one of nature’s greatest spectacles. A gigantic swarm of periodical cicadas is due ...
Loading Comments...