Secrets of the mummies to be revealed

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A hi-tech programme to discover the secrets of Egyptian mummies was launched yesterday. The four-year project involves subjecting the mummies, which range from 2,000 to 4,000 years old, to procedures including DNA testing and examination with a hospital CT (computed tomography) scanner.

Researchers with the project, launched in Edinburgh, hope the details they uncover will include the causes of death of the 10 bodies, which include the remains of three children. The mummies are owned by the National Museums of Scotland, who are trying to raise up to pounds 100,000 in grants for the work.

Elizabeth Goring, curator of the collection, said the work would give experts in Britain the best understanding so far of the history of mummies. Information from the CT scanner would be used to make three-dimensional plastic models of the mummies' skulls and to try to re-create their features.

Three of the sets of remains, which were unwrapped earlier this century, would undergo DNA tests. Among those to be tested were the bones of a woman and child found buried together. The tests would establish whether the bodies were a mother and her child. The other bones, belonging to a three-year-old boy, would be tested to see why he died.

The body was found in a double coffin with another mummy, which had not been unwrapped but was believed to be his twin brother.