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WATCH: Forensic Experts Bring Ancient Egyptian Mummy 'Back to Life'

Aug 22, 2016 06:22 AM EDT
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The 2,000-year-old head of a mummified Egyptian woman was brought to life using forensic art, modern scanning and printing technology.
(Photo : Raymond Bucko, SJ / Flickr)

Australian scientists have just brought an ancient Egyptian mummy to life.

A team of forensic experts and scientists from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and many others has reconstructed the head of a mummified Egyptian woman through the combination of forensic science, CT scanning, 3-D printing and art.

The mummy, who was named Meritamun (beloved of the god Amun), was said to be between 18 to 25 years old when she died, and have lived anywhere between 2,000 to 3,500 years ago.

"The idea of the project is to take this relic and, in a sense, bring her back to life by using all the new technology," Varsha Pilbrow, a biological anthropologist at the University of Melbourne Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience said in a news release.

"This way she can become much more than a fascinating object to be put on display. Through her, students will be able to learn how to diagnose pathology marked on our anatomy, and learn how whole population groups can be affected by the environments in which they live."

Meritamun was kept in an archival container at the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. The mummified Egyptian woman, though covered in tightly bound bandages and embalming fluid, had been in good condition.

Janet Davey, a forensic Egyptologist, identified the gender and age of Meritamun, and Gavan Mitchell, an imaging technician at the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, was tasked to design the 3-D printed skull used as the base for the model. This "tweaking and designing" process alone took 140 hours to complete.

The final touches were from forensic sculptor Jennifer Mann, who worked on putting the face of Meritamun together. The process involved attaching plastic markers to the printed skull to indicate different tissue depths at certain key areas on the face based on how modern Egyptians look like, and applying the clay over the skull model.

Researchers are also waiting for carbon dating results to determine Meritamun's exact age, and are working on details of the mummified woman's health and diet during the ancient times.

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