Mummies get CT scans at Barnes-Jewish Hospital

By | October 13, 2014
Lisa Çakmak

Lisa Çakmak

If you’ve tried to visit our Egyptian collection recently, you probably discovered that Gallery 130 was temporarily closed. If you visited yesterday, a SLAM employee might have asked you to step aside to let a few long, unmarked boxes be wheeled past.

And if you asked what was going on, we probably didn’t give you a very informative answer. We weren’t trying to be rude — we just try not to talk too much about art on the move, at least not until it is safely back where it should be. Now, we’re happy to announce that three mummies are back in the Museum after a busy Sunday that took them to the campus of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where they were examined in a state-of-the-art computerized tomography (CT) scanner.

CT scans — sometimes referred to as CAT scans — use special equipment that emits a narrow X-ray beam to obtain images from different angles around the body and head. The researchers and museum staff are hoping the scans will teach them more about the three and the societies in which they lived.

The scans will be handy in many ways, but perhaps most importantly they will allow Museum visitors “to actually re-imagine the individual,” as Lisa Çakmak, our assistant curator of ancient art, told the St. L ouis Post-Dispatch.

One of the mummies — Amen-Nestawy-Nakht — is owned by the Saint Louis Art Museum. The other two — Pet-Menekh and Henut-Wedjebu — are owned by Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum but are on long-term loan to SLAM.

The results of the scans are not expected until December, but we thought we’d share some snapshots below. We also wanted to offer our thanks to the Washington University team, including Sanjeev Bhalla, MD, professor of radiology and chief of cardiothoracic imaging; Pamela Woodard, MD, professor of radiology and director of the Center for Clinical Imaging Research; Vincent Mellnick, MD, assistant professor of radiology; and Michelle Miller-Thomas, MD, assistant professor of radiology.