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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 14:24 GMT
Virtual mummy tour
Mummy RSNA
Ramesses I had a deformed ear
Scientists have taken a virtual tour inside several ancient Egyptian mummies.

The researchers used computed tomography (CT) imaging to produce extraordinary images of the embalmed individuals and reveal details of how they might have lived and died.

"It's like exploring the insides of the mummies with a camera, without unwrapping them or destroying them in any way,'' said Dr Heidi Hoffman, of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, US, who headed the study.

One of the images provides a tour inside the rib cage of a mummy believed to be that of Ramesses I, the first pharaoh of the 19th dynasty during ancient Egypt's splendid New Kingdom period, who died in about 1314 BC.

It shows abdominal organs tightly rolled in linen packs as was then the embalming custom.

Another image from the same mummy shows a severely deformed ear, perhaps the result of a bad piercing job, and a skull full of embalming resin.

General RSNA
Researchers studied nine mummies in all
The imaging involved taking a number of cross-sectional CT pictures, or "slices" of the body, and entering the images into a computer. The computer digitised them, combining the scans to create a 3D image.

"Although there are studies of mummies using standard CT, this is the first to combine the use of 3D and virtual imaging techniques," Dr Hoffman said.

Nine mummies were studied in total. One mummy initially thought to be a baby was actually shown to be a young child whose legs had been amputated below the knees. Another child had a skull fracture, which may have been the cause of death.

The research was presented to the 86th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

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