X-rays probe secrets of mummy’s tomb

2012-09-06 00:00

STELLENBOSCH — New technology at the University of Stellenbosch now enables researchers to determine the authenticity of antique Egyptian mummies without any need to unwrap them or cut them open.

The university’s central analytical facility’s new high-resolution scanner takes X-ray images of the mummies from thousands of different angles and creates 3D images.

The images can then be virtually dissected on a computer screen and measured from any angle.

Professor Izak Cornelius, chair of the department antique studies at Stellenbosch, said the Egyptians of yore mummified millions of animals — including pets, to accompany their owners into heaven.

He said the facility had recently tested the authenticity of four mummified animals sent from the Iziko Museum in Cape Town.

He said they found that one mummy of a falcon comprised only a claw and stuffing of plant materials. The other was a complete fake, containing only reeds, sand and stones.

The third mummy, presumably of a small cat, was perfectly preserved.

Even the bones of the cat and its last meal was visible in the area where its stomach would be.

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