MSCT fleshes out mummy

November 4, 2004

Archeologists armed with picks and shovels may have unearthed Harwa's mummified remains in the Valley of the Queens, but it took modern-day scientists armed with a multislice CT scanner and advanced postprocessing capability to finally put a face on the 3000-year-old Egyptian.

Unlike spiral CT, which has been used in the past for similar projects, MSCT allowed radiologists, anthropologists, and forensic artists to uncover much finer detail, including a mole on the left side of Harwa's face (AJR 2004;183:755-758). Postprocessing enabled the investigators to virtually unwrap the bandages from the head, separating them from superficial dried tissue remaining on the mummy's skull. The only other way to have obtained such precise information would have been to unwrap, destroy, and otherwise alter the conservation of the bandages and the mummy, the authors said. (Images provided by F. Cesarani)