BMI Shirley Oaks Hospital staff solve mystery of headless mummy
SOME rather unusual patients who have been kept under wraps for thousands of years paid a visit to hospital this week – despite being dead for centuries.
Six ancient mummies were taken to the BMI Shirley Oak Hospital recently as the centre joined forces with The British Museum in a bid to unlock secrets of their former lives.
The hospital allowed the mummies, which are part of the museum's permanent collection, to undergo CT scans to help peel back the bandages to find out how they lived, worked and ultimately died.
The mummified men and women who aged between 800 and 2,000 years old and were from Egypt, Peru and Sudan, were seen by the radiology team after manager Kathy Gunn offered the use of the hospital's equipment.
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Dr Daniel Antoine, curator at The British Museum said: "This opportunity gives an unparalleled chance to source scientific data that will help us shed light on the physical anthropology, family relationships, life expectancy, nutrition, health, disease and the causes of death of these mummies."
One of the main surprises of the day came from a female mummy, who was originally thought to be headless.
The CT scan revealed her head was attached, but tucked forward into her chest.
Dr Antoine continued: "The surprises on the day, such as the revelation that our headless mummy has a head, allowed us to answer a lot of questions.
"But, the revelations and surprises will continue as we now take these images away and continue our research that will dramatically improve our understanding about how these people lived and died."
The day was a turning point for the museum, which has previously only been able to extract data and information by unwrapping the mummies – a destructive and irreversible process.
But advances with the cutting edge medical equipment which provides non-invasive imaging techniques, made it possible to look inside the mummy without disturbing the wrappings in any way.
Radiology manager Kathy Gunn said, "We were delighted when the British Museum accepted our offer to help them with their research.
"On our patients, we would use this CT imaging technology to help us detect vascular lesions, infections, tumours, calcifications, haemorrhage and nerve pain conditions.
"But the technology we have at the hospital is so advanced that it can also be used to help scientists learn about the lives of people who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago."