Modern Technology Reveals Clues From Egyptian
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers using modern
medical technology to examine an Egyptian mummy have so far
determined that it was a child of a wealthy family from the Roman
period in Egypt around 100 A.D.
The mummy, owned by the Spurlock Museum at the University of
Illinois, underwent X-rays and CT scans in 1990, and more scans
with updated CT technology this year. Researchers also analyzed
fragments of cloth, insects and hardened resins collected from the
The scans showed the mummy's bone structure and also revealed
that the embalmers left the brain, heart and lungs in the body. The
child's long bones were still growing and there were still some
baby teeth, which suggests that death occurred around 7 to 9 years
of age, according to Sarah Wisseman, project coordinator of the
mummy studies and director of the Program on Ancient Technologies
and Archeological Materials at the Illinois State Archeological
There are a number of indications -- such as a cracked skull
with no evidence of bleeding and the presence of carrion beetles in
the body -- that suggest the embalmers "did a crummy job or this
body was lying around for a while before it was treated," Wisseman
said in a university news release.
This could be because the child died during an epidemic, which
would have forced the embalmers to rush the job or caused a delay
in preparing the body, Wisseman suggested.
"All of the evidence, however, suggests that this is a child from a wealthy family," she noted. "They're using expensive red pigment from Spain. They're using gold gilt decoration. This is a fairly high-class kid."
The cause of death is unknown. Another major question is whether
the mummy was a boy or girl. Its hands are positioned in front of
its collapsed pelvis, preventing researchers from determining its
sex. DNA samples have yielded no answers so far.
The researchers will discuss their findings at the Spurlock
Museum on Wednesday.
The Smithsonian has more about
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