Scanning of pottery
It has been common practice to make profile drawings of pots and potsherds in order to compare their shapes. This is a time consuming practice. The results are often not very precise. Besides, in the case of 'closed' pottery-shapes with a small mouth, it used to be impossible to measure the inside and to make profile drawings at all.
After conducting a number of tests with a medical CT-scanner at the Radio diagnostic Department of the Academic Medical Centre, it has now become possible to produce perfect profiles, even of closed potshapes. By further computer tomography, which is based on the principle that an object is reconstructed by a computer after having been X-rayed from many different directions, it has become possible to attain pot profiles in both horizontal and vertical planes.
The profiles made by the scanner show a large variation of grey tones. This is due to different chemical cells of baked clay absorbing a different amount of X-rays. The shades of grey may be assigned to distinct elements. In this way, a histogram can be produced indicating the chemical composition of the clay. Every single profile has its own histogram: by comparing these, differences in the compound of the clay can be shown. In cooperation with the Computer Centrum Letteren, this method will be further developed.
Mummies under the scanner
On the initiative of voluntary cooperator H. Koens, the mummies and mummy parts of the Museum were scanned in the Academical Medical Centre in Amsterdam. The most spectacular subject was the only complete human mummy in the Museum, a permanent loan from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.
The preliminary results can be summarized as follows:
- It concerns a male person, between 18 and 40 years old at the time of his death.
- Contrary to the well-preserved general condition of the body, the bones of the thorax appeared to be heavily damaged: the ribs were fragmented and dislocated. A possible cause of death?
- All internal organs were replaced by packs of linen and sand (?). The only exception is formed by the heart, which was replaced by a so-called heart scarab. The brain was removed as well. A striking feature is the relative good preservation of the eyeballs with muscles and all.
- Apart from the already mentioned heart scarab three more amulets were identified: two Eyes of Horus and a smaller scarab.