Computer reveals 2,000-year-old secrets of an Egyptian mummy

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HE DIED nearly 2,000 years ago, and no one knows his name. All that is known is that he was Egyptian, in his late 20s, and his top teeth overlapped his lower teeth.

The artist hid this detail in a portrait, but experts at Edinburgh have revealed his secret with state-of-the-art medical scanners normally reserved for the living.

Computer scanning, used to help identify ailments in the living, helped experts establish the sex and age of the dead without removing the delicate bandages which have preserved them. The unknown Egyptian is one of 13 mummies at the National Museums of Scotland where computer technology has helped unlock many of the secrets of the tomb.

He dates from the Roman period - about 80 AD to 100 AD - and amulets and wrappings suggest he came from a "fairly wealthy" family, said museum scientist Kathy Eremin.

The computer scanning enabled a reconstruction of his head to be made and a coffin portrait of the dead man helped them build up his features.

Scans have also shown how many Egyptians of that time suffered painful mouth abscesses, caused by grit and gritty food getting stuck between their teeth and gums.

But tooth decay was fairly rare, because of the rough and sugar-free diet.