Science

Scientists Studied Ancient Egyptian Mummy Using Particle Accelerator

If you ever wondered what the inside of an Ancient Egyptian mummy looks like, scientists from the Northwestern University in Illinois managed to take a look at one, thanks to a high-energy particle accelerator called a synchrotron. They made sure that their experiment wouldn’t damage the ancient mummy.

Ancient Egyptian Mummy
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

According to PBS NewsHour, Northwestern’s Hibbard mummy originated from the first century A.D. and inside of it are the remains of a little girl who lived west of the river Nile. According to the scientists, the girl might have been around five years old when she died, while the whole mummy weighs roughly 50 pounds. The Chicago Tribune reports that the remains of the little girl had been found with an embedded portrait on a wooden board above her face area. The mummy was unearthed in 1911 in Hawara, which is an archaeological site of Ancient Egypt.

A team of researchers from the Northwestern University of Illinois took the mummy to the Argonne National Laboratory. The scientists experimented with the mummy, using high-energy X-rays to learn more about the objects embedded in the mummy.

Marc Walton, Northwestern University’s materials and lead scientist of the study, said in a statement that the initial intent of the study was to see whether and how the physical sciences could be used to unveil the art and technology behind the mummy.

“This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our undergraduate students – and for me – to work at understanding the whole object that is this girl mummy. Today’s powerful analytical tools allow us to nondestructively do the archeology scientists couldn’t do 100 years ago,” Marcon Walton said in a statement on Wednesday.

In August, researchers led by the University’s molecular biology professor, Stuart R. Stock, first conducted a CT scan on the Ancient Egyptian mummy, which helped them determine that the girl was five years old when she was mummified, before going on to use the synchrotron.

“From a medical research perspective, I am interested in what we can learn about her bone tissue. We also are investigating a scarab-shaped object, her teeth, and what look like wires near the mummy’s head and feet,” Stock said in the statement.