Scanner reveals details of Egyptian mummy inside casket

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Stunning images from within the unopened casket of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy have been revealed using a hi-tech hospital scanner.

The elaborately decorated coffin contains the wrapped remains of Meresamun, a woman believed to have been a singer-priestess at a temple in Thebes in 800 BC.



Experts do not want to disturb the casket, which has remained sealed since Meresamun was laid to rest almost 1,000 years before the birth of Christ.



But now cutting edge X-ray technology has allowed scientists to peer through the coffin and obtain astonishing 3D images of the mummy, still wrapped in her linen bandages.



A state-of-the-art computed tomography CT scanner was used to peel away the layers and reveal Meresamun's skeleton.



The mummy's remaining internal organs can be seen, as well as what appear to be stones placed in her eye sockets.



Egyptologist Dr Emily Teeter, from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute Museum, where a new exhibition featuring the mummy and CT images opens tomorrow, said: "It is so exciting to be able to see this. The mummy is still in the coffin. It is like having X-ray eyes to see the relationship between the coffin, the wrappings and amount of linen used."



Meresamun's identity is unclear. Her name, shown in an inscription on the casket, means "She Lives for Amun" (an Egyptian god).



According to the inscription she served as a "Singer in the Interior of the Temple of Amun", one of a number of priestess-musicians who performed during rituals dedicated to the god.



Meresamun was one of the higher ranking "interior" singers, some of whom served members of the Egyptian ruling family.



The scans suggest she was about five foot five inches tall and aged in her late 20s or early 30s when she died.



She was an attractive woman with wide-set eyes, a symmetrical face, prominent cheekbones and a long neck.



The cause of Meresamun's death is unknown, and all the more mysterious since she appears to have been in exceptionally good health. The state of her bones shows she enjoyed a nutritious diet and active lifestyle.



Although she bore no signs of dental disease, her teeth were worn down by the grit in Egyptian bread, which was made from stone-ground flour.



Early analysis suggests she had not given birth to any children.



The sealed casket was bought in Egypt in 1920 by James Henry Breasted, founder of the Oriental Institute.



The coffin, made from cartonnage - a type of papier mache composed of layers of fabric, glue and plaster - is colourfully painted with pictures of gods and symbols and hieroglyphics relating to life after death.



Earlier attempts to carry out scans of the casket in 1989 and 1991 produced disappointing fuzzy images.



The new images were obtained using a Philips Brilliance iCT scanner, one of the most advanced available. The machine scanned 100 cross-section slices of the mummy per second, generating 30 billion individual measurements and producing 1,000 times more raw data than was collected in 1991.



US radiologist Professor Michael Vannier, who led the scanner team, said: "The iCT scanner allows us to perform detailed analysis of very complex anatomy within seconds.



"The pictures of the mummy are breathtaking, we could see subtle things - wear patterns on the teeth, a clear view of the embalming incision, precise indications of her age - that were not apparent before."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower