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CT Scans Used in 'Mummy Autopsy'
Dec 2004
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Dec. 6 -- Computed tomography (CT) and x-rays provide a noninvasive peak at mummies, some of which have lain forgotten for centuries, in a 13-part TV series that follows a five-member team of researchers as they investigate ancient findings.
A world premiere of the Discovery Channel's "Mummy Autopsy" will be held tonight at 5:30 & 7 p.m. in the Southwest Film Center in the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Graduate students James Murrell and Ken Nystrom, who are featured in the TV series, will speak about their roles as mummy investigators.
The UNM students will be seen worldwide as they travel to exotic destinations for "Mummy Autopsy," which will have its TV debut tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Investigations were conducted without cutting the mummies open. The mummy experts examined scars, burns and clothing and looked at body stature and tooth wear. CT scans were used to look at organs that were left in the body to determine the presence of pathologies, any trauma and to provide noninvasive information about mummification techniques. X-rays helped determine age and sex. Samples were collected for DNA testing and carbon dating, and strontium isotopes were used to determine the mummy's origin.
Murrell, in his second year of doctoral studies at the UNM College of Education, is trained as a radiologic technologist. Early in his career, he traveled with a group to South America to perform x-rays on the remains of native Andean mummies. Nystrom is nearing completion of his doctorate studies in biological anthropology and teaches biology at Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute.
Nystrom conducted his work in Greece, Italy, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Murrell began his investigations in London and held his final mummy investigation in Rio de Janeiro.
The show's creators said their aim is to "put flesh on the bones" and to recreate the lives of the long dead.
"Archeology, excuse the pun, can be a little dry," Nystrom said. "We're trying to recapture a little bit of how these people actually lived to give the audience something they may not have seen before."
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