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Particle Accelerator Reveals Mummy's Secrets Without Disturbing What's Inside

Image: Particle Accelerator Reveals Mummy's Secrets Without Disturbing What's Inside
(Northwestern University)

By    |   Friday, 01 December 2017 09:22 AM

A particle accelerator revealed secrets of the mummy of a 5-year-old girl, without having to unwrap the ancient Egyptian treasure excavated more than 100 years ago.

Researchers have been piecing together the story of Northwestern University’s Hibbard mummy containing the remains of a the girl who lived in an agricultural community west of the Nile around the end of the first century A.D. and who likely died from smallpox or malaria, Newsweek reported.

As part of their scientific investigations, they transported the mummy to Argonne National Laboratory where they used the high energy X-rays beams of the Advanced Photon Source (APS), to take a look at the contents inside without causing any damage.

Leading the experiment was Stuart R. Stock, a research professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who said the study was a 3-D puzzle.

“We have some preliminary findings about the various materials, but it will take days before we tighten down the precise answers to our questions. We have confirmed that the shards in the brain cavity are likely solidified pitch, not a crystalline material,” he said.

The APS is the brightest X-ray source in the Western Hemisphere and its high-powered beams will provide molecular information about the contents of the mummy, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Researchers will be able to learn more about the girl’s bones and the burial materials and most excitingly, they will be able to view her remains through a series of snapshots taken at a near-atomic level.

“That’s what we’re trying to do with all this analysis, to unpack who this person was,” said Marc Walton, a Northwestern materials science and engineering research professor, per Tribune. “We’re trying to construct the narrative.”

Walton explained that the X-Rays allowed researchers the opportunity to revisit the mummy’s excavation that happened over 100 years ago, and then reconstruct it with their contemporary analysis technique.

“All the information we find will help us enrich the entire historic context of this young girl mummy and the Roman period in Egypt,” he said.

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A particle accelerator revealed secrets of the mummy of a 5-year-old girl, without having to unwrap the ancient Egyptian treasure excavated more than 100 years ago.
particle accelerator, reveals, mummy, secrets
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2017-22-01
Friday, 01 December 2017 09:22 AM
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