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ScienceShot: Tracking the World’s Everlasting Dead

18 September 2013 2:45 pm
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Andrew Wade

What has become of the world’s once privately owned mummies? Many of the European and American tourists who purchased the ancient linen-wrapped dead as souvenirs from Egypt in the 1800s were unable or unwilling to care for them and later donated them to local museums and other institutions. The Mummipedia Project, announced in August, aims to find them. With the goal of “a page for every mummy on Earth,” bioarchaeologist Andrew Wade is asking volunteers to contribute information—such as where and when mummies were collected—from local museums, universities, and private collections. The two mummies from Thebes, Egypt, shown in these 3D reconstructions (left/right) and CT scan (center), now at the Redpath Museum in Montreal, Canada, are among the thousands of bodies in the database. Using Mummipedia, researchers will know where to find mummies from a particular Egyptian dynasty or from a specific ancient Peruvian culture and use them to study topics as diverse as the evolution of ancient parasites and the development of funerary practices.

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