Researchers reveal results from CT scan of South American mummy

Jun 18, 2014 by Annie Deck-Miller

The results of the "virtual autopsy" performed on a South American mummy from the collection of the Buffalo Museum of Science (BMS) are in, providing new insights into the life of the infant mummy. As part of the groundbreaking Mummies of the World exhibition, which premiered in Buffalo on April 12, Dr. Peter Loud of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and Dr. Heather Gill-Frerking of American Exhibitions, Inc., along with a team of RPCI radiologists performed a noninvasive 3D computed tomography (CT) scan of the mummy on April 7.

From their analysis of both soft tissues and the 's skeleton, the research team was able to conclude that the mummy is a two-year-old girl. The scan also determined that there is no discernible evidence of disease or trauma on the skeleton that has been identified so far. Through the cutting-edge medical imaging available at RPCI, the scan helped experts determine these details, and further analysis will assist in future research applied to the exhibition. Further research to the medical imaging was also conducted by James Schanandore, who works in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University.

"This particular mummy has been part of the Buffalo Museum of Science's collection for over a century. Until now, very little was known about this individual, including its age and gender," comments BMS President & CEO Mark Mortenson. "Thanks to collaboration with Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Mummies of the World, we now have answers to some of our questions. We recently agreed to lend this mummy and related items from our collection to Mummies of the World for the remainder of the exhibition's three-year tour so that her story could be shared with audiences across the nation."

"Some internal organs were preserved, including the liver and part of the lungs. There is a rectangular object on the back of the child, near the left shoulder that may be an amulet with a groove down one side. More research is in progress to determine what the object is made of," says Dr. Heather Gill-Frerking, Director of Science and Education Development at American Exhibitions, Inc. "Future work will include identifying more of the preserved internal organs, and determining the composition and structure of the rectangular object."

"This partnership provided a unique opportunity for us to use the tools and analytical approaches we use every day to help the Buffalo Museum of Science reconstruct important details about the life and circumstances of a mummy that is part of their permanent collection," notes Dr. Peter Loud, Vice Chair of Diagnostic Radiology and Director of Body Imaging at RPCI. "It was an interesting and rewarding project to be involved with, and we're very pleased that we were able to help enhance the experience and understanding of all the museum visitors who will learn about this mummy, through this exhibit and for years to come."

Explore further: Impact on mummy skull suggests murder

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Impact on mummy skull suggests murder

Feb 26, 2014

Blunt force trauma to the skull of a mummy with signs of Chagas disease may support homicide as cause of death, which is similar to previously described South American mummies, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Oxford team shed light on ancient Egyptian obelisk

21 hours ago

History was made this month as the robotic Philae lander completed the first controlled touchdown on a comet. The European Space Agency-led project was set up to obtain images of a comet's surface and help ...

Ancient Egyptian codex finally deciphered

Nov 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —A pair of Australian researchers, Malcolm Choat with Macquarie University and Iain Gardner with the University of Sydney, has after many decades of effort by others, succeeded in deciphering ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.