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Ancient Egypt: Mummified animals ‘digitally unwrapped’ in 3D scans

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Media captionThe snake, bird and cat are at least 2,000 years old

Three mummified animals from ancient Egypt have been digitally unwrapped and dissected by researchers using high-resolution 3D scans.

The snake, bird and cat, from the Egypt Centre’s collection at Swansea University, are at least 2,000 years old.

Ancient texts suggest they were offerings to the souls of the departed, but little was known of their fate.

Researchers said the details revealed by the scans were “extraordinary”.

Using micro CT scanners, which generate 3D images with 100 times the resolution of medical CT scans, the animals’ remains were analysed in previously unseen detail, giving an insight into how they were killed and the ritual behind it.

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Swansea University

Image caption

The coiled remains of an Egyptian cobra, undisturbed for thousands of years

And the seven-year project, a collaboration between the Egypt Centre and Swansea’s College of Engineering, came about by chance.

Richard Johnston, professor of material science, said: “The project started purely because the engineering department used to be right opposite the Egypt Centre, and over coffee I mentioned our X-ray scanner might reveal what’s hidden inside their animal mummies, and so we took it from there.

“Up until then we’d been using the technology to scan jet engine parts, composites, or insects, but what we found when we started looking at the mummified animals was extraordinary.”

Dr Carolyn Graves-Brown, of the Egypt Centre, said the collaboration between engineers, archaeologists, biologists, and Egyptologists showed “the value of researchers from different subjects working together”.

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Swansea University

Image caption

The head of the mummified cat after it had been digitally unwrapped

The team discovered that:

  • unerupted teeth hidden within the jaw bone suggested the cat was a kitten of less than five months old. Separation of its vertebrae indicated it had possibly been strangled
  • Virtual bone measurements suggested the bird most closely resembled a Eurasian kestrel
  • Analysis of bone fractures on the snake – a juvenile Egyptian Cobra – showed it was killed by a whipping action against the ground or a wall

The findings are in keeping with what the Egypt Centre already believed about the ritual mummification of animals.

The ancient Egyptians mummified animals as well as humans, including cats, ibis, hawks, snakes, crocodiles and dogs.

Sometimes they were buried with their owner as a food supply for the afterlife, but the most common animal mummies were offerings, bought by visitors to temples to present to the gods.

They were bred or captured by keepers and then killed and embalmed by temple priests; it is believed that as many as 70 million animal mummies were created in this way.

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Swansea University

Image caption

The soft tissue (left) and skeletal remains (right) of the Eurasian kestrel

Prof Johnston said while finding an animal inside might not have been a surprise, the level of detail they were able to obtain certainly was.

“The snake mummy had been X-rayed before, but that only creates a 2D image which doesn’t tell you too much about the finer structure. Conventional medical CT scanning provides a 3D image, but the resolution is too poor to make out much more,” he said.

“However, with the micro CT software we can create a virtual reality image of the scan as large as a house, if you like; I can actually walk around inside the body of the cat and make microscopic measurements to examine in minute detail.”

The micro CT works by taking thousands of individual X-rays from all angles while the mummy rotates 360 degrees.

A computer then merges them to create a 3D image which can be rotated and viewed from any angle.

Image copyright
Swansea University

Image caption

The open-mouthed skull of the Egyptian cobra, as revealed by X-ray microtomography

It differs from a medical scanner in that, rather than the X-ray source and camera revolving around the object, the object spins on a platform between the source and camera.

Prof Johnston said this makes it impractical for medical use on live humans, but the technology still has many other untapped applications.

“X-ray dose from micro CT is typically too high for human use, and the scan times much longer,” he said.

“But it has limitless potential for materials in science, engineering, biology, even biomimicry.

“We scan structures from nature that have evolved over millions of years to be efficient or strong, like bamboo, and then reproduce the micro-scale shape for engineering design through 3D printing.”

The full research is published today in the journal Scientific Reports.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge

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Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

STATEMENT
Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.

ChangeYouCanTrust

CountryBeforeSelf

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Is Johnson Byabashaija courting Enid Kukunda for protection?

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The very amiable Commissioner General of Prisons Canon Johnson Byabashaija was recently sighted with President Y K Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s second wife Enid Kukunda as the two had a very secretive meeting in one of the city hangouts.

According to our informers, the two seem to be in a deep conversation that they wouldn’t allow a housefly pass around. However, sources further reveal that Byabashaija could have courted the second lady for protection given that he has amassed a lot of wealth and could be a subject of investigations.

Our sources reveal that Byabashaija who carries himself as Mr.I know it all hasn’t met Madam Enid alone but a host of others with connections to the centre of power in the country.

We will bring you more detail

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Bobi Wine released on Bail

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Presidential candidate and kyadondo East legislator Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu has been realeased on bail by the Iganga magistrates court where he appeared to defend himself against accusations of flouting COVID-19 campaign SOPs. A defiant Kyagulanyi took the opportunity to blast the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, whom he accuses of using state power to quell dissident.

This follows a tense week that has seen thousands injured and several dead following Hon. Kyagulanyi’s arrest earlier this week. Demonstrations and riots erupted in many parts of the country and heavy police and army deployment was seen all over the country.

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