An Egyptian mummy’s head and face have been reconstructed with forensic science and 3D printing, offering scientists a tantalizing glimpse of the individual’s life and death.
The mummified head was discovered by accident in the collections of the University of Melbourne in Australia. A museum curator happened upon the remains during an audit and, concerned about the state of the specimen, sent it for a computed tomography (CT) scan.
“Turns out, [the skull] is actually quite intact; it has got bandages and looks well on the inside,” said Varsha Pilbrow, a biological anthropologist in the University of Melbourne’s Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience. “Of course, that then allowed us to think what to do next.”
With the help of an imaging specialist, Pilbrow and her team used the scans to create a 3D-printed replica of the mummy’s skull. Then, the scientists studied the specimen’s facial-bone features, such as the size and angle of the jaw and characteristics of the eye sockets, to determine that the head belonged to a female. The researchers are calling the specimen Meritamun. They say she was probably not more than 25 years old at the time of her death and was important enough to be mummified.
Credit: Varsha Pilbrow and Gavan Mitchell