Researchers can even begin to uncover the mummies' cause of death.

Mummy scan
Credit: Courtesy of Trustees of the British Museum

A new exhibit in Sydney using 3-D technology has given scientists and museum visitors alike the opportunity to learn about the lives and deaths of ancient Egyptians in a whole new way.

Curators at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS) in Sydney, in a joint effort with the British museum, have virtually unwrapped several 3,000 year-old mummies in order to study the artifacts without damaging them. Scientists used CT scanning to create 3-D models, opening up a whole new trove of information about the specimens, according to Melanie Pitkin, the curator at MAAS.

“CT scanning enables us to reveal more information about the lives, deaths and embalming practices of individuals that otherwise might be unknown to us,” Pitkin told Travel + Leisure in an email. “We can establish the individual’s age at death, sex, what their state of health and nutrition might have been like, their possible cause of death and methods of embalming.”

Mummy scan
A CT scan shows the body amulets of "Tamut."
| Credit: Courtesy of Trustees of the British Museum

For instance, researchers and curators were able to discover that one mummy, named Tamut, was adorned with intricate amulets and jewels all over her body at the time of burial. They also noted calcification in her arteries and were able to deduce that she may have died from a heart attack or stroke because of a diet high in animal fat, Pitkin told T+L.

Tamut’s burial ornamentation also included gold coverings on her fingernails and toenails, as well as textile and stone bundles in her eye sockets.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to think we have also been able to 3D print some of these amulets,” Pitkin said. “That is, without ever having to undo Tamut’s bandages and disturb her body, we can still create the objects placed on her body using the CT scan data and hold them in our hands.”

The British Museum is already scanning more mummies, both human and animal, and they will continue this new line of inquiry into ancient Egyptian life.