Combined computed tomography and position-resolved X-ray diffraction of an intact Roman-era Egyptian portrait mummy: Combined computed tomography and position-resolved X-ray diffraction of an intact Roman-era Egyptian portrait mummy

S. R. Stock*, M. K. Stock, J. D. Almer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hawara Portrait Mummy 4, a Roman-era Egyptian portrait mummy, was studied with computed tomography (CT) and with CT-guided synchrotron X-ray diffraction mapping. These are the first X-ray diffraction results obtained non-invasively from objects within a mummy. The CT data showed human remains of a 5-year-old child, consistent with the female (but not the age) depicted on the portrait. Physical trauma was not evident in the skeleton. Diffraction at two different mummy-to-detector separations allowed volumetric mapping of features including wires and inclusions within the wrappings and the skull and femora. The largest uncertainty in origin determination was approximately 1.5 mm along the X-ray beam direction, and diffraction- and CT-determined positions matched. Diffraction showed that the wires were a modern dual-phase steel and showed that the 7 × 5 × 3 mm inclusion ventral of the abdomen was calcite. Tracing the 00.2 and 00.4 carbonated apatite (bone's crystalline phase) reflections back to their origins produced cross-sectional maps of the skull and of femora; these maps agreed with transverse CT slices within approximately 1 mm. Coupling CT and position-resolved X-ray diffraction, therefore, offers considerable promise for non-invasive studies of mummies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0686
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Volume17
Issue number172
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Keywords

  • Egypt
  • X-ray diffraction
  • computed tomography
  • mummy
  • synchrotron X-radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

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