Thursday, June 25, 2009

Scan for 2000 year old mummy of child

The Age (Richard Macey)

LIKE an expectant father, Michael Turner paced the floor anxiously yesterday.

A few metres away the mummy of an Egyptian child who died, aged about seven 2000 years ago, was undergoing one of the most thorough examinations modern medicine can provide.

For the senior curator at the University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum, the answer to a mystery was about to be revealed.

"Is it a boy?" Mr Turner wondered aloud. "Is it a girl?"

Collected in the 1850s by Sir Charles Nicholson, one of the university's founders, the mummy has been held by the museum for almost 150 years.

The mask covering the face is that of a girl. But a name on papyrus rolls that came with the mummy, thought to be from Thebes, has been translated as Horus. "That's a boy's name," said Mr Turner.

Mummy dealers in the 1800s, he noted, frequently mixed artefacts up for sale, so there was no guarantee that the mask or the name really belonged to the mummy.

ABC News

A 2,000-year-old mystery was solved today when an ancient Egyptian child's mummy was CT-scanned in Sydney in a ground-breaking collision of history and science.

The mummy, named Horus after the ancient Egyptian god, is believed to date from the Graeco-Roman period.

It has been held in the collection of the University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum for nearly one-and-a-half centuries.

Until today, its sex and age have been anyone's guess.

"I'm amazed to actually discover that it is a seven-year-old male," senior curator Michael Turner said.

"For 140 years we thought it was a girl!"

The university holds three mummies, two adults and a child, as well as numerous mummified animals.

While x-rays have long been used to scan mummies, the latest CT imaging technology will reveal much more about the seven-year-old child and his life that has previously remained unknown.

"We can look at the teeth, we can fly through the body to see what is still inside," says Janet Davey, a forensic Egyptologist from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.

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