CT Scans Reveal Surprising Contents in Miniature Egyptian Mummies

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CT Scans Reveal Miniature Mummies’ Surprising Contents

by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com

For almost half a century, researchers at the Haifa Museums in Israel thought that a pair of miniature Egyptian mummies housed in their collections contained human hearts. But when museum staff brought the sarcophagi to a local hospital for a computerized tomography (CT) scan last month, they realized the ancient wrappings actually concealed the remains of a bird and a wad of grain and mud, reports Rossella Tercatin for the Jerusalem Post.

The mummified bird is probably a falcon. Interestingly, it appears to be missing a key body part: namely, its left leg.

“Nobody knows why,” Marcia Javitt, head of medical imaging at the Rambam Health Care Campus, where a team scanned the mummies on June 29, tells Live Science’s Laura Geggel.

The bird is also missing several organs. Its neck is broken—an injury that probably occurred after death, according to Javitt.

Aside from the fact that the artifacts are Egyptian and between 2,500 and 3,000 years old, experts know little about their history and provenance, says Ron Hillel, registrar and head of collection management at the Haifa Museums, to Live Science. The so-called grain mummy measures around 18 inches long, while the other is closer to 10 inches long.

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