Blogs & Videos: CT Scanning

Mummies and Cheetahs, in 3D!

Contrary to the image of mummies portrayed by the popular Scooby-Doo cartoon, mummies are not monsters, capable of smashing through walls; in fact, most mummies are too fragile even to stand on end. Egyptian mummies are embalmed lying on their back, and so fit easily into a medical CT scanner, which looks a bit like a spaceship with a table for the patient that slides through a hole in the middle of the machine. Peruvian mummies are a different story, though, since they were buried crouching – the larger examples won’t fit through the hole.

Video: Gilded Lady, The Mummy

Using state of the art technology, Anthropologists from The Field Museum had the opportunity to examine Egyptian mummies for the first time. Check out the amazing images that they produced using a portable medical CT scanner. These mummies have been part of the Museum collections for many years and thanks to proper conservation methods, researchers are now able to work with them without causing any damage.

Video: Conserving Sticky

J. P. Brown is the Regenstein Conservator for Pacific Anthropology at The Field Museum and his job is to maintain and preserve the objects housed in our Anthropology collections. In this case, JP is using CT Scan technology to understand how the figure of a seated man from the Pacific island of Malekula (Republic of Vanuatu) was constructed. By revealing the different layers that make this fascinating handcraft, JP will be able to make decisions on how to store it properly so future generations can also enjoy it and keep preserving it.

18 July 2011 - CT Scanning

This past week, we got a glimpse inside some of The Field Museum’s mummies and a few other artifacts.  Because we can’t physically unwrap the mummies without damaging them, we used a CT scanner to make three dimensional x-ray images of the objects.  Using software, we can then take a look at the 3D image to see what’s inside.  Inside we found grave goods such as a pot filled with what appears to be grain or residue from an evaporated liquid and what could be a necklace in addition to human remains, of course.  Although in one case, we found no remains where we expected to see a full skeleton.