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Airport scanners used to examine mummies

Scientists are experimenting with using airport scanners to “screen” ancient mummies.

“We found that this non-invasive imaging method is well suited for the investigation of ancient mummified soft tissues and embalming related substances,” Swiss anatomist and paleopathologist Frank Rühli told Discovery News.

Mummies are usually investigated with conventional X- rays or computer tomography scans, which provide the clearest images.
But high resolution comes at a price.

Ionizing radiation used by X-rays and CT scans can destroy highly fragmented ancient DNA. But the terahertz radiations of body scanners are completely harmless to human cells and don’t destroy tissue.

According to Rühli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich and one of the world’s top mummy experts, ancient dry specimens are ideal for imaging with the technology.

While body scanners cannot penetrate the heavily hydrated human body, they can easily go through desiccated mummies.

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