CT scans of Egyptian mummy skulls

Head and Skull Base Features of Nine Egyptian Mummies: Evaluation with High-Resolution CT and Reformation Techniques

OBJECTIVE. CT is an indispensable imaging tool in the evaluation of Egyptian mummies because it can noninvasively generate large amounts of data. We applied current CT imaging and postprocessing techniques to methodically survey the head and skull base features of nine Egyptian mummies in the hope of providing paleopathologic and radiologic information.

MATERIALS AND METHODS. Nine Egyptian mummies were evaluated on helical CT using 1-mm axial scans obtained from the skull vertex to the mid cervical spine. Systematic evaluation of the skull and intracranial contents, paranasal sinuses, craniocervical junction, orbits, temporal bones including the middle and inner ears, teeth, and superficial soft tissues was undertaken. Reformatted and volume-rendered images were generated.

RESULTS. CT findings indicated that the intracranial contents of the nine mummies varied tremendously. Destruction of the anterior skull base structures in mummies without intracranial contents suggested a transnasal, transethmoidal approach to excerebration. A large amount of expensive embalming material within the skull of one mummy suggests that he may have been a royal pharaoh. A cleft palate deformity was identified in a child mummy. Temporal bone analysis revealed one case of asymmetric mastoid air cell erosion and dehiscence, which is strongly suggestive of prior mastoiditis. Craniocervical junction abnormalities and ossicular chain disruption in several mummies were attributed to postmortem damage. The orbital structures had intentionally been removed in several mummies. Dental disease was ubiquitous among the adult specimens.

CONCLUSION. The systematic evaluation of the head and skull base of mummies with CT can provide insight into the life, disease, death, and postmortem treatment of these ancient Egyptians.

Technically interesting to me, probably not to most of you!


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