Computerised tomography (CT) scanners are normally used to create detailed images of the inside of the body, but they have recently been used to scan more unusual patients.
Eight Egyptian mummy exhibits from The British Museum in London have been transported to hospitals across the city under the cover of darkness and placed inside CT scanners, where the high quality imaging has yielded some revealing and rather surprising results.
Aside from providing medical data showing that the ancient Egyptians suffered from the same range of afflictions as modern man, including high cholesterol and toothache, one of the scans uncovered an age-old secret from the past: that one of the mummies, buried in a woman’s coffin and believed for hundreds of years to be female, was in fact a man.
Evidence of archaic surgical procedures were also found, though in this case the operation may have led to the unfortunate demise of the patient.
Curator Daniel Antoine told Sky News: "Facial visualisation reveals a tool still stuck in his head.
"There had been an attempt to remove his brain, but during it one of the tools used to go through the nose appears to have snapped and surprisingly that tool is still lodged inside him."
The tool could also have been left there from an inexpertly executed embalming process.
Some of the mummies have been exhibited at the museum for over 200 hundred years, the first being received in 1756, but it has never been possible to examine or unwrap them in case they were damaged in the process, but the latest scanning techniques have been able to expose what really lay beneath their layers of bandages.
The mummies that were scanned were all human remains exhumed from the Nile Valley, from individuals who had lived there between 3,500BC and 700AD. They were scanned as part of a new exhibition called Ancient Lives New Discoveries which will reveals more about how Egyptians lived and were buried at that time. The CT scan results will also be on public display.
Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, said: "This new technology is truly groundbreaking, allowing us to reconstruct and understand the lives of these eight very different individuals.
"This is a project which has only been made possible through recent technological advances."
If you want to know more about the secrets of Ancient Egypt and cannot attend the exhibition, then why not scan our archives here at Unknown Country, where you will find fascinating interviews with the world’s most celebrated experts on Egyptology and other ancient cultures , including William Henry, Dr. Robert Schoch, Graham Hancock and Chris Dunn.