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Mummy scans reveal a gruesome detail of the past

Handout photo issued a CT scan. Photo: Trustees of the British Museum.

Scientists and researchers at the British Museum made a strange discovery when they looked at the MRI results of a mummy they had scanned - a spatula had been left lodged in its skull after being used to scoop out its brains.

The body of the man - from Thebes in modern-day Egypt - is believed to have been mummified around 600 BC.

Eight mummies have been examined with advanced CT scanners that produce produce high resolution data, which can be converted into 3D images of the subject.

Handout photo of a CT scan. Credit: Trustees of the British Museum

The image of the man's mummified body clearly shows the spatula in his head and a series of dental abscesses which would have caused him extremely painful toothache.

The new exhibition at the British Museum also show Tamut, her body was was buried with jewellery befitting her high status and the scan also showed she suffered from blocked arteries which may have contributed to her death.

Handout photo of a CT scan. Credit: Trustees of the British Museum

The museum's director Neil MacGregor said:

This new technology is truly ground-breaking, allowing us to reconstruct and understand the lives of these eight, very different, individuals.

This is a project which has only been made possible through recent technological advances and I am delighted that the museum is at the forefront of this kind of research and presentation.

– Neil MacGregor

The exhibition runs from May 22 to November 30, will be able to see big-screen images which reveal some of the secrets of mummification, as well as the technological advancements in this process.

Handout image of a mummy. Credit: Trustees of the British Museum

The museum started x-raying its mummies in the 1960s and used CT scanners for the first time in the 1990s.

Read more: MRI scans for Egyptian mummies in Manchester