Virtual reconstruction and morphological analysis of the cranium of an ancient Egyptian mummy

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Abstract

A mummy of an Egyptian priestess dating from the 22nd dynasty (c. 770 BC), completely enclosed in an anthropoid (human shaped) coffin, was scanned on a CT scanner. An accurate reconstruction of the cranium was generated from 115 × 2 mm CT images using AVS/Express on a SGI computer. Linear measurements were obtained from six orthogonal cranial views and used in a morphometric analysis software package (CRANID). The analyses carried out were both linear and nearest neighbour discriminant analysis. The results show that there is a 52.9% probability that the mummy is an Egyptian female, with a 24.5% probability that the mummy is an African female. Thus the technique confirms that the coffin contains an Egyptian female, which is consistent with the inscription on the coffin and the shape of the pelvic bones as revealed by plain X-rays. These results show that this technique has potential for analysing forensic cases where the bones are obscured by soft tissue and clothing. This technique may have an application in virtual autopsies.