Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cold Case Techniques Bring Mummy’s Face To 'Life'

Date:
June 23, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago
Summary:
Thanks to the skills of artists who work on cold case investigations, people have a chance to see what the mummy Meresamun may have looked like in real life.

Michael Brassell, a police sketch artist working in Maryland, drew this image of the mummy Meresamun, based on a CT scan of the mummy at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.
Credit: Michael Brassell for the University of Chicago

Thanks to the skills of artists who work on cold case investigations, people have a chance to see what the University of Chicago’s mummy Meresamun may have looked like in real life.

A Chicago forensic artist and a police artist in Maryland prepared the images, which depict an engaging woman in her late 20s as she would have looked in 800 B.C. Both artists, though working independently, produced strikingly similar images.*

Dr. Michael Vannier, Professor of Radiology, began the process of restoring the mummy’s facial features with two exhaustive CT examinations of Meresamun in 2008 at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

“A huge number of CT scans of the skull were used to create a 3-D digital model of Meresamun’s skull,” said Emily Teeter, Research Associate at the Oriental Institute an curator of a museum exhibition about the mummy. “Those files were given to forensic artists who use methods employed in cold case investigations where skeletal remains need to be identified.”

The Oriental Institute wanted to compare multiple reconstructions, in order to obtain a trustworthy image of Meresamun’s face. Both a digital version of the traditional forensic reconstruction and a missing person-type sketch were submitted.

In the traditional forensic method, layers of fat, muscle and flesh are built up upon the skull. Starting with a three-dimensional image of the skull created from multiple CT scans, Chicago artist Joshua Harker used a technique known as the Gatliff-Snow American Tissue Depth Marker Method to calculate the contours of the face to digitally recreate Meresamun’s appearance.

“The skull is the driving architecture of the face—all the proportions and placements are there, if know how to read it,” Harker explained. “Even the shapes of the lips, nose and eyebrows can be determined if you know what to look for,” The American Tissue Depth Marker method has been shown to be effective in accurately reconstructing a face, both in identifying victims and as admissible evidence in court.

“I try not to make any assumptions without expert direction, whether that be from an anthropologist regarding the race, gender or age, or from and expert like Emily Teeter who can give me an accurate description about details based on historical evidence,” Harker said. “I am ecstatic that my reconstruction of Meresamun has been so well received by the community who knows the most about her.”

Michael Brassell, who works with the Department of Justice/Maryland State Police Missing Persons Unit, used his skills as a trained sketch artist to produce a second, more traditional reconstruction.

“The project was no different then any of the postmortems drawings I have worked on for cold case homicides. The CT scans were very clear, making my job easy,” he said. “If this was a homicide case, I would almost go as far to guarantee a hit on the profile drawing.”

Meresamun lived in Thebes (ancient Luxor) about 800 B.C. and died of undetermined causes about age 29-30. An exhibit, “The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt,” features her mummy and coffin and will be featured through Dec. 6 at the Oriental Institute Museum. A video display allows visitors to view features of Meresamun’s physical state and perform a “virtual unwrapping” of the mummy, enabling them to see how it was prepared. Advanced digital techniques have made it possible to recreate Meresamun’s appearance.

She was tall by ancient standards—5-and-a-half feet—her features were regular with wide-spaced eyes and she had an overbite. “Meresamun was, until the time of her death at about 30, a very healthy woman,” Vannier said. “The lack of arrest lines on her bones indicates good nutrition through her lifetime and her well-mineralized bones suggest that she lived an active lifestyle.”

*The drawings are on display at the Oriental Institute Museum, and have been placed on the institute’s Web site (http://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/special/meresamun/), on Meresamun’s Facebook page, her Wikipedia listing and on YouTube.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago. "Cold Case Techniques Bring Mummy’s Face To 'Life'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622200028.htm>.
University of Chicago. (2009, June 23). Cold Case Techniques Bring Mummy’s Face To 'Life'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622200028.htm
University of Chicago. "Cold Case Techniques Bring Mummy’s Face To 'Life'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622200028.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 14, 2014) — A hoard of Viking artifacts dating back over 1,000 years is discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins