The Buzz: Egyptian Mummy Undergoes CT Scan
It’s not every day that a mummy undergoes a CT scan, but that’s just what happened recently at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The institution’s new Flash CT scanner is helping archaeologists and Egyptologists learn more about the roughly 2,000-year-old mummy that belongs to the Ohio Historical Society, where it is referred to as Amunet (meaning “the hidden one”).
“This collaboration brings out a little bit of Indiana Jones in all of us,” said Dr. Joseph S. Yu, professor of radiology and orthopedic surgery at the Wexner Medical Center.
“In medicine, we have incredible and powerful tools to learn about our cells and our bodies,” he added. “In this unique venture with the Ohio Historical Society, we have been able to utilize this wonderful technology to peer into the past.”
Amunet had been X-rayed in 1935 and again in 1984, but the nearly 8,000 new images from the CT scan, combined with the 21st-century expertise of the Wexner Medical Center’s radiology team, has refined OHS’s understanding of all aspects of Amunet’s preserved anatomy and the mummification process.
In addition, those images will allow OHS to construct a 3D replica of Amunet’s face.
The results of the CT scan indicate that Amunet was a woman with a full and comfortable life. Researchers estimate that Amunet died between the ages of 35 and 45, and that she was a woman of some means because her joints don’t show the damage that is typical of people who have engaged in a lifetime of manual labor.
She was 5 feet 2 inches tall (an average height for Egyptian women at that time) and attractive, having a symmetrical face and nearly perfect teeth.
Amunet suffered from an infection at some point in her life, possibly histoplasmosis, as the scan revealed soft tissue calcifications in the lungs, lymph nodes, and abdomen. There are no signs of violent trauma, so she appears to have died of natural causes.
“Our goal throughout this process is to treat Amunet not as some kind of curiosity, but as a woman from the past with stories to share,” said Bradley Lepper, curator of archaeology at OHS.
Amunet and her coffin have been on display since OHS acquired them in 1925, and the public can see them at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, at 800 E. 17th Ave., during regular museum hours.
The museum is open Wed.-Sat., 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12-5 p.m. For more information, call 614-297-2300 or 800-686-6124.
More information can be found online at www.ohiohistory.org.
Photo courtesy of the Ohio State University.