Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Unveiling Animal Mummies

The Scientist (Cristina Luiggi)

With video.

Stuffed into the sand-buffeted ancient ruins scattered about the Nile Delta are tens of millions of mummified animals. Birds, cats, dogs, crocodiles, snakes—nearly all manner of creature that lived during the time of the Egyptian pharaohs—were carefully preserved and tucked away in the depths of temple catacombs.

For the past 74 years, around five dozen of these mummified animals have sat on the polished display tables and dusty shelves of the Brooklyn Museum like unopened presents. Their time-worn linens and tightly-sealed sarcophaguses have guarded their inner contents for thousands of years, leaving the museum curators and historians to glean clues from external observation.

But in preparation for an upcoming exhibition of Egyptian animal mummies, Brooklyn Museum curator Edward Bleiberg and conservationist Lisa Bruno joined forces with veterinary radiologist Anthony Fischetti to use one of the most powerful medical imaging tools—X-ray computed tomography (CT scan for short)—to reveal the inner secrets of mummified specimens in exquisite detail.

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