The Spurlock Museum mummy gets a CT-scan overview image

The Spurlock Museum mummy gets a CT-scan

  • Post Date5/20/2011
  • AuthorJohn Holton
  • Reading Time4 minute read

For the second time since it arrived in Urbana in 1989, our ancient Egyptian mummy has made a trip to the hospital. The Spurlock Museum has joined forces with Carle Foundation Hospital, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), and the Smithsonian Institution to carry out a major new study of the Museum's oldest resident. On March 29, 2011, the mummy was taken to Carle Hospital, where it underwent a series of intensive CT-scans under the direction of Dr. Joseph Barkmeier.

This page includes a series of photographs that tell the story of preparing the mummy for its trip to the hospital, the taking of the CT-scans, and the return of the mummy to its case in the Museum, along with a peek at some of the new images.

  • John Holton and Christa Deacy-Quinn working on the mummy's crate.
    John Holton and Christa Deacy-Quinn install fasteners to the mummy crate's lid.
  • Holton and Deacy-Quinn place mummy into the crate.
    Holton and Deacy-Quinn place mummy into the crate.
  • Mummy inside its padded, custom crate.
    Mummy inside its padded, custom crate.
  • The mummy is being carefully placed on the a hospital gurney.
    The mummy crate is transferred to a gurney at Carle Foundation Hospital. From the bottom left, clockwise; John Holton, assistant collections manager at Spurlock Museum; Christa Deacy-Quinn, collections manager; and David Hunt physical anthropology museum specialist and collections manager, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
  • Museum staff being escorted into Carle Hospital.
    Mike Graybill (back) escorts Deacy-Quinn and Holton as they move the mummy on a hospital gurney.
  • Sarah Wisseman and Museum staff walking through hospital entrance.
    Sarah Wisseman (left) and Wayne Pitard (back) on-look as Holton and Deacy-Quinn move the mummy through the hospital entrance.
  • Mummy is placed onto the CT scanning bed.
    Deacy-Quinn and Holton move the mummy to the CT scanning bed.
  • Final adjustments to the placement of the mummy are made.
    Graybill directs Deacy-Quinn and Holton as they make final adjustments before the scan begins.
  • A discussion is taking place before the scanning begins.
    Pitard (left), Joseph Barkmeier (middle), and Wisseman (right) discuss the mummy before it is scanned.
  • A laser reviews the mummy's placement to ensure the most optimal scans.
    Laser sight lines are used to ensure the mummy is in the optimal scanning position.
  • The mummy is on the scanning table. slightly left view
    The mummy rests on the table as the scan begins.
  • The mummy is on the scanning table. view from the right
    Full view of the mummy during the CT scan process.
  • The mummy is on the scanning table. back view, museums staff by its side
    The mummy's point of view as staff looks on.
  • The mummy is on the scanning table. view from an angle
    The mummy waits as the scan completes.

A number of scholars, led by Dr. Sarah Wisseman of ISAS and Dr. David Hunt, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian, will study the results over the next several months and will present their findings at a symposium at the Spurlock in November. Dr. Wisseman also organized the first study in the early 1990s, which showed that the mummy holds the remains of a young child between the ages of 7 and 9 who lived and died in the Fayyum Oasis in Egypt between 50 and 150 CE. But the original CT-scan did not enable scholars to discern whether the child was a boy or girl, and there was not enough evidence to determine a cause of death. CT-scan technology has improved dramatically over the past 20 years, and Wisseman and Hunt believe that we will gain considerably more information from the new data.

  • Three people look onto the CT technologist's work on the computer as he gathers data from the scan.
    Mike Graybell (seated), Carle lead CT technologist, gathers data from the CT scanner. Monitoring the process of the CT scan: from left, Deacy-Quinn; Donovan Beswick, Carle radiology imaging manager; and Wayne Pitard, the director of the Spurlock Museum and a professor of religion.
  • CT imaging data as it appears on the screen during the scan. outlines
    CT imaging data as it appears on the screen during the scan.
  • CT imaging data filled with different shades
    Another view of the imaging data.
  • The mummy's skeleton as shown through the CT scan.
    The mummy’s skeletal system can be easily seen in this image of the scan.