Haifa researchers X-ray Egyptian mummies revealing ancient contents

CT scan of Egyptian mummies at Rambam Hospital in Haifa reveals they are symbols to ancient gods.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

With time on their hands owing to the coronavirus pandemic, researchers in Haifa decided to see just what was inside two small ancient Egyptian mummies in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Haifa.

Nobody knew exactly for sure what the mummies contained, and in order to virtually unwrap what archaeologists thought were mummified remains without damaging the contents, a team headed by radiologist Dr. Marcia Javitt recently scanned the mummies with computed tomography (CT) at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital.

However, the X-ray scans revealed that each sarcophagus did not contain human remains at all. One turned out to be a preserved falcon that most likely represented the Egyptian god Horus, while the second, despite having a human shape was found to be packed full of grains and mud in the shape of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris.

“It was extremely exciting to see these ancient Egyptian mummies enter the CT and to watch as the computer screens revealed what had been hidden for thousands of years,” said Dr. Michael Halberthal, CEO of the Rambam Health Care Campus.

The bird is an interesting case, because a key body part wasn’t there and several organs were gone, the researchers found.

“It’s missing its left leg, nobody knows why,” said Dr. Javitt, who is also an adjunct professor of radiology at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The non-invasive radiation technology was used to obtain accurate digital images of the mummies, one which is about one meter (3 feet) long and the smaller second artifact, both thought to be about 2,500 to 3,000 years old.

Rambam mummies

Dr. Marcia Javitt (R) and colleagues hold the mummies and sarcophagi next to the CT scanner. (Rambam HCC)

The Haifa museum staff had always been curious about the two mummies in their collection, which date from a time when the Assyrians reigned to the north, Yeroboam was the king of Israel and the city of Rome had just been founded.

The museums only recently reopened its doors to the public after being closed for several months due to the corona pandemic, a break that gave the researchers a chance to finally unveil some of the secrets hidden in the coffins for the past three millennia.