Peek Inside Mummies’ Sarcophagi at British Museum

A mummy and its CT scan at "Ancient Lives, New Discoveries" at the British Museum, London. Photo: courtesy the British Museum.

London’s British Museum has revealed the hidden secrets of eight of its 120 mummies in “Ancient Lives, New Discoveries,” reports the Telegraph. Thanks to that modern marvel, the CT scanner, the museum has developed 3D imagery that provides a detailed look at what lies with the ornately decorated sarcophagi.

The exhibition includes several interactive video monitors that allow you to gradually peel away the layers, revealing the mummies’ bandages, desiccated flesh (not to mention tattoos or ornate jewelry), skeleton, and the few remaining shriveled internal organs—even the remnants of one mummy’s last meal!

The scans provide unprecedented detail about the mummified Egyptians—one mummy had lots of fat, and likely died of heart disease, while another’s head fell off during the embalming process, and it was reconnected using metal rods that were only visible thanks to the state-of-the-art technology.

Although mummification is most widely associated with the pharaohs, it was common among all classes in ancient Egypt. The museum selected mummies from a wide range of ages and levels of social standing in order to provide the most comprehensive snapshot of Egyptian society.

For those who might find cause for concern, the museum assures visitors that the scanning technology is completely noninvasive, and that they are “committed to caring for human remains with respect and dignity.” As a happy side-effect of the discreet scanning process, no researchers will incur the fearsome curse of the mummies.

For a better idea of how all this fancy technology looks in person, check out this video from the BBC.

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