Wrapped in linen and reverently laid to rest, Egyptian mummies hold intriguing clues to life and death in ancient Egypt
Their mummification was so successful that now, thousands of years later, we're still learning from the bodies of long-dead Egyptians.
Archaeologists and Egyptologists are now using pioneering 3D scanning to uncover the secrets of four mummies, three from Egypt and one from the Canary Islands.
The scanner, which takes X-rays that penetrate deep into the mummies, can extract huge amounts of information in just one scan, allowing researchers to peer beneath the bandages. The team will then combine more than 20,000 cross-sectional images to construct a representation for study.
“I have spent all my life with these mummies,” says Egyptologist Carmen Perez Die. “They are very important pieces and I am looking forward to beginning this new way of studying them with which we will learn many new things about them that until now we could not access.
Lauded by researchers for offering a window into the past and glamorised by Hollywood, embalmed Egyptian corpses are the créme de la créme of mummies.
And the search for more mummies isn't over. Even now, scientists are exploring King Tut's tomb, looking for evidence of a door to a second, hidden tomb. Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves believes the tomb could contain the remains of Tut's mother-in-law, the famed Nefertiti. Explore the unfolding story here.
Egyptians were embalmed during a process that often lasted 70 days. Priests liquefied the corpse's brain and drained it through their nose. All internal organs were removed and placed in separate jars, except the heart, which was left intact because ancient Egyptians believed the heart was integral to a person's being and intelligence.
Afterwards, the body was dried with natron, a type of salt, and wrapped in hundreds of yards of linen. Now completely mummified, the body was placed inside its tomb along with paintings or models of food and amulets – all things they thought someone would need in the afterlife.