CT scan sheds light on 2,000-year-old child mummy

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The University of Texas (UT) Medical School at Houston’s Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging, at the request of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, performed a CT scan on a tiny 2,000-year-old mummified figure.

“The mummy had never been unwrapped,” said Sandra Oldham, MD, professor of radiology, chief of thoracic imaging and director of residency radiology. “They thought it was a child but didn’t have any other information.”

The mummy was removed from a curator’s box and the scanner for one minute on a CT.

An earlier x-ray indicated the mummy might be a girl but they museum personnel not sure because the device could not completely penetrate the mummy’s wrappings. The CT scan confirmed the location of two small hoop earrings and a metal density around her neck and under her jaw, indicating the sex as female. 

The CT scan also dispelled the belief that the child was aged two. Judging by the number of unerupted teeth and unfused bone ends, Oldham said the child was 3 to 4 years old. She also detected tiny bone breaks consistent with the age of the mummy, which dates to 30 B.C. to 150 A.D.

Oldham performed the CT scan at UT Imaging, a freestanding, outpatient diagnostic imaging center.