CT scans show first X-rayed mummy in new light | Science News

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CT scans show first X-rayed mummy in new light

Images reveal how far radiography has come in 120 years

By
8:00am, October 5, 2016
mummy image and CT scan

MUMMY MYSTERY  Little was known about this mummified Egyptian child (top) when German physicist Walter Koenig used X-rays to look beneath its wrappings in 1896. Modern CT scans provided a more informative peek, revealing, among other findings, a completely preserved skeleton (bottom).

X-rays were the iPhone 7 of the 1890s. Months after X-rays were discovered in late 1895, German physicist Walter Koenig put the latest in tech gadgetry to the test by scanning 14 objects, including the mummified remains of an ancient Egyptian child. Koenig’s image of the child’s knees represented the first radiographic investigation of a mummy.

At the time, details on the mummy itself were scant. Originally collected by explorer-naturalist Eduard Rueppell in 1817, the specimen lacked any sort of decoration that might link it to a particular dynasty or time period. Koenig’s X-ray image of the mummy served less to fill in any of those blanks and more to demonstrate the technology’s potential. Since then, radiographic images have revealed hidden artifacts, elucidated embalming techniques and even pinpointed

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