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  • 3-D Holography Peers Under Mummy’s Shroud
May 2012
EDINBURGH, Scotland, May 16, 2012 — Great details of an ancient mummy, including jewelry adorning its inner shroud, have been revealed in color using 3-D holograms.

The University of Edinburgh’s Clinical Research Imaging Center (CRIC), in collaboration with Edinburgh-based 3-D imaging specialist Holoxica, assembled the images of a 2000-year-old corpse.

At this level of detail, the mummy's shroud is somewhat visible. Jewelry, which the CT scan could not see through, adorns the shroud. (Images: Holoxica)

The Rhind Mummy, so named for the 19th-century Scottish Egyptologist and archaeologist who discovered it in a tomb in Thebes, has been housed at the National Museum of Scotland since its discovery. The mummy was in excellent condition and remains completely intact within its original black-tarred linens.

To see what was contained in the shroud, Martin Connell, a visualization engineer at CRIC, and Elena Kranioti, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Edinburgh, performed a series of CT scans at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The scans revealed a 5-foot-2-inch woman who died in her late 20s around 10 B.C. They also found that she holds a papyrus scroll in her right hand called the "Book of Breathing" by Egyptologists, which contains instructions for the afterlife. The researchers were convinced that they could get more intricate details, so they consulted with Holoxica on the feasibility of creating a 3-D hologram.

A CT scan of the mummy in its shroud reveals a young woman.

"We began by painstakingly piecing together an animated hologram of the mummy's head and upper shoulders which reveals different layers of visual information as the viewer of the hologram moves from left to right," said Javid Khan, managing director of Holoxica. "For example, the first layer is the wrapping shroud, which 'peels' away to reveal her face. This is followed by the skull. The 'outer wrapping' is encrusted with jewels and gold amulets which are visible from angles and, most intriguingly, a metal scarab-shaped cap placed on top of the skull during mummification can also be seen in great detail."  

A scan of the mummy's skull shows a gold cap.

The end result was a life-sized color animated hologram that shows a remarkable and unique depth of realism and detail. 

The hologram has been submitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the International Symposium on Display Holography 2012 (ISDH) to be held in June. It will be on display at the MIT Holography Exhibit from June of this year to September 2013.

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