Researchers Peer Into Mummy Coffin With CT Scan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A patient who was rolled into a Long Island Hospital earlier today was old. Really, really old. Greg Cergol has more. (Published Thursday, Apr 28, 2011)

    A hospital CT scan device helped look back in time Thursday, examining a mummy more than 2,600 years old from ancient Egypt.

    At North Shore University hospital in Manhasset, hospital doctors and researchers from the Brooklyn Museum used computerized topography, known as a CT scan, much in the same way it is used for a live patient.

    "Normally we use this imaging to look at people's hearts, and what we did in this case, we scanned the whole mummy," said cardiologist Dr. Amgad Makaryus.

    The device took more than 10,000 images of the mummy, allowing researchers to learn more about it without disturbing the delicate remains.

    The mummy's name was Lady Gautseshenu, according to officials from the museum, which has had the mummy since 1934. She was from a prominent family of Egyptian priests, and her brightly colored "cartonnage," or coffin, was discovered near the city of Luxor in southern Egypt.

    Her coffin has never been opened. The images gathered Thursday will help doctors and researchers piece together the story of a life. 

    At first look, doctors determined the young woman was at least 16 years old and stood about 4 feet 6 inches tall. 

    The CT scan images also clearly displayed her skull and teeth. Doctors could also see her heart.  That was significant, researchers said, because only wealthy or prominent Egyptians were buried with their organs intact.

    "We can learn a lot about her health, about how old she was when she died, her diet, and that tells us a lot about what society was like in ancient times," said Edward Bleiberg, curator of Egyptian art for the Brooklyn Museum.

    It's unclear how the woman died.  That is something doctors say will be difficult to determine. 

    But the images taken by this 21st-century instrument will give researchers an up-close and personal glimpse of Egyptian life in the year 700 B.C.

    This is the sixth mummy from the Brooklyn Museum to undergo a scan like this.