Frontlines | See-through Mummies

Thanks to a new take on an old technology, scientists now can unravel secrets of Egypt's mummies without undoing any bandages. Using multidetector computerized tomography (MDCT), a group of Italian researchers took a noninvasive, yet highly accurate virtual tour of the mummies' bodies (F. Cesarani et al., "Whole-body three-dimensional multidetector CT of 13 Egyptian human mummies," Am J Roentgenol, 180:597-606, March 2003).

The instrument scanned along the entire body in tiny increments or "slices" 1.25 to 2.5 millimeters wide. Computer programs then assembled the images to create three-dimensional, rotatable pictures. MDCT satisfies both researchers and preservationists, who want to study the internal structure of anthropologic items in a hands-off manner. "We expect people to learn how technology can increase the knowledge about ancient people in a noninvasive way," says group leader Federico Cesarani, University of Torino. "This will make it easier for the public to...

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