Akhet Logo

One of the most captivating items in the NMS collection is a striking 'Portrait Mummy'. During the Roman period it became fashionable to include a painted portrait in the mummy wrappings, and to elaborately weave and stud the bandages. In addition feet and hands were often molded in plaster and fitted to the wrappings. Ironically this attention to the outer appearance was thought to coincide with a dramatic decline in the standard of the preservation processes used by the embalmers.

As part of the mummy project this mummy was CAT scanned. CAT (or Computer Aided Tomography) is a sophisticated XRay technique which involves building up a 3-d image of a body by taking a series of 'slices' through it. This enables Egyptologists to to see exactly what is inside a set of wrappings without damaging them.

One exciting by-product of this process is that the scans can be used to build up a 3 dimensional model in plastic of the Mummies skull, and then to produce an approximate reconstruction of the face of the mummy.

See the amazing reconstruction of the mummies face.

The question the project was trying to answer was 'Is the portrait board an accurate representation of the Mummified man ?'. When the reconstruction of the features was complete the similarity to the face on the wrappings was striking. The addition of black curly hair and a short beard, as shown on the portrait, proved that the portrait was an accurate depiction of the mummies actual face. Judge for yourself.

Return to the Mummy Project homepage