CSI Egypt? Assessing the potential of computerised tomography of mummified remains for developing forensic techniques

This source preferred by Martin Smith

Authors: Smith, M.

Start date: 13 September 2013

There is an increasing need for forensic anthropologists to be able to perform skeletal analysis based on radiographs, but research ethics make it difficult to develop these skills on contemporary data. Modern attitudes to mortuary practice and data privacy severely limits access to CT scan datasets for research, restrictions which are not generally applied to archaeological specimens. In recent years there have been a significant number of CT scans performed on mummified remains. These studies have contributed a wealth of knowledge to the field of Egyptology, and have satisfied a great deal of intellectual and public curiosity about mummification, but the wider applications of mummy CT scans have not been adequately explored. Increasingly radiology has a role to play in the field of forensics, where non-destructive and –invasive methods of bio-profiling are increasingly in demand to meet the public desire for ‘respect’ of the body. This study aims to demonstrate that CT scans of mummies could prove a viable alternative to modern subject CT scans for case studies for forensic research. Two bio-profiles have been produced, one from an Ancient Egyptian mummy, the other from a modern subject. This study compares these profiles to assess whether CT scans of mummies provide enough data to make them useful case studies for the development of forensic techniques. This study will show that the unique mortuary practises of the Ancient Egyptians make them ideal for modern forensic anthropology training and research.

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