The CT Scanning Project
The Field Museum possesses a considerable collection of mummies, most of which date to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. Many have not been on display since, and most have also never been studied thoroughly, due to the risk of irreversible destruction involved in unwrapping such fragile specimens.
However, in 2011, a mobile CT scanner generously provided by Genesis Medical Imaging changed everything. The Museum’s mummies were scanned on site and “unwrapped” virtually in software, thereby avoiding a risky ride to a hospital.
Over six days in July, Museum scientists performed non-invasive CT scans of human and animal mummies from Egypt and South America. The secrets hidden inside—such as the grave goods buried with individuals, the processes used to mummify them, and even their age, sex, injuries, and physical defects—could be seen in remarkable detail, without damage to the specimens.
By studying the modern scans of these mummies, scientists have uncovered a wealth of new information about life, death, and the quest for immortality in Egyptian and South American cultures.