CT scans of 2,100 year old mummy from the Ptolemaic period - previously thought to be that of a hawk - have surprised experts by revealing it is actually a human fetus. Maidstone Museum UK, worked with Andrew Nelson (Western University) and a team specialists to determine dates, places of origin and mummification methods of its artefacts. With the help of Nikon CT (computed tomography), the unexpected discovery was made.
The resulting CT scans provided some interesting information about the mummies, but 'EA 493' the mummified hawk of the Ptolemaic period had a much bigger secret inside. Experts were incredibly surprised to see that the initial scans revealed a human fetus. Although these scans managed to reveal that the hawk was actually a human fetus, the scans still lacked true detail.
The resulting scans show well-formed toes and fingers but a skull with severe malformations. Andrew Nelson explains, “The whole top part of his skull isn’t formed. The arches of the vertebrae of his spine haven’t closed. In this individual, this part of the vault never formed and there probably was no real brain. It would have been a tragic moment for the family to lose their infant and to give birth to a very strange-looking fetus, not a normal-looking fetus at all. So this was a very special individual.”
In the video below, take a look at what the micro-CT scans revealed and listen to the words of Andrew Nelson on what the unique story behind this mummification would have been.