Dental decay was a serious problem in ancient Egypt, and tattoos were already being inked on skin by the 8th century AD. These are just two of the discoveries uncovered by new techniques used to virtually unwrap eight mummies, revealing unprecedented detail about their age, diet and health.
Curators at the British Museum collaborated with medical experts and other scientists in a project that used computerised tomography (CT) scanning and 3D visualisation to gain new insights into life and death in the Nile Valley up to 5,500 years ago.
The team studied a diverse selection of eight individuals from the museum’s collection of 120 mummies retrieved from Egypt and Sudan. Among the eight – who lived at various points between 3500 BC and AD 700 – are a young female temple singer, a man of high status and a child from the Roman era. Non-invasive scanning techniques were employed to determine the age of each one at death, the health problems they’d suffered, and the manner of mummification.