Now, thanks to the latest in computed tomography (CT)
scanning technology, which is normally used to help diagnose and
treat living patients, researchers have been able for the first
time to show the world remarkable 3D images of woman who lies
preserved inside the beautifully painted casket.
Scans had been performed using a 64 slice CT scanner. The
scans were then repeated using the Philips 256-slice Brilliance
iCT scanner to collect thousands of images of Meresamun, from
which they have been able to create highly-detailed 3D pictures
without exposing the fragile remains to the elements.
The technology enables researchers to 'see' through the
casket to the mummy, still wrapped in her layers of linen
bandages. The scanner is able to “peel” each layer away to
reveal her skeleton, including what appear to be stones in her
eye sockets, and her remaining internal organs.
Researchers wanted to use the iCT to find out more about the
life and death of Meresamun, who lived 3000 years ago. Dr Emily
Teeter, Egyptologist of the Oriental Institute at the University
of Chicago 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 is thought to have lived around 800 BC and is
believed to have been around 30 years old when she died. The
markings on her coffin suggest she was a singer at the Temple of
Amun in Thebes, southern Egypt and, from what experts know about
other women of the same title, this suggests she probably came
from a very important family.
“The iCT scanner allows us to perform detailed analysis of
very complex anatomy within seconds,” said Michael W Vannier,
MD, Professor of Radiology at the University of Chicago. “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, answering many questions that were raised
by the first set of CT scans in 1991."
Dr John Steidley, vice president, Philips Global CT business
unit, said: “The Brilliance iCT is the flagship scanner in our
CT portfolio. It was designed to excel at routine head and body
imaging, to simplify the most demanding applications such as
cardiac, trauma and bariatric and to provide these capabilities
for patients ranging from pediatric to geriatric.