According to a report in Swiss Info, researchers from the University of Basel, the University of Zurich, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo re-examined a 3,000-year-old prosthetic toe discovered in Egypt’s Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna necropolis with modern imaging techniques, including microscopy, X-ray technology, and computed tomography. The prosthesis belonged to the daughter of a priest whose big right toe appears to have been amputated. The wooden toe had been refitted several times. “They often wore sandals, so you can imagine that a well-formed foot was important,” said Andrea Loprieno-Gnirs of the University of Basel. “The wooden toe shows that she had a certain living standard, and also that there were craftsmen capable of making such prosthetics.”
Engineer Glen Dash of the Glen Dash Research Foundation and Egyptologist Mark Lehner of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) took new measurements of the Great Pyramid of Giza to try to determine its original size and orientation. The 4,500-year-old pyramid, constructed for the pharaoh Khufu, is the largest of the three pyramids on the Giza Plateau, but most of its smooth limestone casing was removed and reused in antiquity. The scientists looked for surviving casing stones on the pyramid’s platform, and marks that suggest where the edges of the casing stones once rested. They found 84 points along the original edges and marked them on a grid system developed by AERA to map the Giza Plateau. Statistical analysis of the new measurements indicate the west side is longer than the east by between 0.25 and 5.6 inches to a 95% probability, with the best estimate of the error being 2.9 inches. “The base is not quite square,” Dash told Live Science. He suspects that the pyramid builders laid the structure out on a grid oriented on the cardinal directions, with just a slight degree of error. Additional research could reveal how the ancient Egyptians accomplished this feat.
Egyptologists at the Fitzwilliam Museum reportedly expected to find the embalmed remains of an adult’s organs in a miniature cedar sarcophagus that was discovered in Giza in 1907 by the British School of Archaeology. However, a CT scan has revealed the remains of a human fetus, estimated to have been no more than 18 weeks old at the time of death, which occurred sometime between 664 and 525 B.C. “The care taken in the preparation of this burial clearly demonstrates the value placed on life even in the first weeks of its inception,” Julie Dawson, head of conservation at the museum, told The Telegraph. The small-scale coffin had been carefully decorated, and the remains inside it had been wrapped in bandages. Molten black resin was poured over the tiny mummy before the coffin was closed. To read about another recent discovery, go to “Egypt’s Immigrant Elite.”
A mummy from ancient Egypt was heavily tattooed with sacred symbols, which may have served to advertise and enhance the religious powers of the woman who received them more than 3,000 years ago.
The first complete sequences of the Y chromosomes of Aboriginal Australian men have revealed a deep indigenous genetic history tracing all the way back to the initial settlement of the continent 50,000 years ago, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology today.
A team from the University of Kent, led by biological anthropologist Patrick Mahoney, used 3-D microscopic imaging to examine the teeth of children between the ages of one and eight years who lived near Canterbury Cathedral during the medieval period.
Cyber-archaeology to the rescue
If cyber-archaeology sounds like Indiana Jones with a laptop instead of a bullwhip, you’re on the right track.
Through the combination of CT scans and archaeological research, the display of this four-metre long crocodile introduces visitors to the beliefs of ancient Egyptians, to whom this mummy was an incarnation of the crocodile god Sobek. Although crocodiles were considered terrifying beings to be placated through offerings and gifts, they were also associated with the fertility of the river Nile and its annual flood, which was fundamental to the wellbeing of the country.
Absolutely fascinating video from the British Museum on the conservation of a crocodile mummy – the largest mummy in the collection (about 4 m long). They talk about the processes in conserving such an amazing mummy and also scientific studies being undertaken on how it was created.