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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 11:12 GMT
CT scan unravels mummy's secrets

Experts have carried out a CT scan on an ancient Egyptian mummy in a bid to unravel its secrets.

Radiographers at University College Hospital carried out a whole-body computerised tomography on the 3,000-year-old body on Sunday.

Nesperennub, a male priest, is enclosed in a linen and plaster case within a one and a half metre-long coffin.

Staff from the British Museum asked for the scan in order to find out more about the coffin's contents.

Technological advances

Two radiographers took about four hours to carry out a series of detailed scans which allow images to be created at a thickness of 0.02in (0.6mm).

Experts are keen to use the images to find out more about the jewellery around Nesperennub's neck, thought to have been put on just before burial.

Fiona Henderson, lead radiographer for UCH, said: "This CT scanner was installed just two years ago when the new hospital opened and it provides incredibly detailed images, generating up to 6,000 images of the body."

Fully-wrapped Egyptian mummies still contain a lot of untapped information
John Taylor, British Museum

She explained that it was not possible to use a MRI scan on the mummy as it needed water to be present to work.

An original scan by the hospital in 2004 showed that Nesperennub was generally healthy but had poor teeth and a bad abscess.

Researchers were unable to establish the exact cause of his death but a hole in his skull suggested some sort of disease.

John Taylor, assistant keeper in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan said: "Fully-wrapped Egyptian mummies still contain a lot of untapped information.

"We are keen to keep abreast of the latest developments in imaging technology so as to learn more from these ancient bodies."

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