People around the world are 3D printing offices, prosthetic legs and arms. Next up: an Egyptian mummy.
Australian researchers have reconstructed the head of an 18 to 25-year-old woman who lived in ancient Egypt at least 2,000 years ago.
Going by the name Meritamun, meaning the beloved of the god Amun, the mummified Egyptian head lives in the basement of the medical building at the University of Melbourne .
After concerns that the mummified remains of Meritamun's head may be decaying from the inside, a CT scan was requested. The scan concluded that Maritamun's head was in "extraordinary good condition."
Janet Davey, a forensic Egyptologist from Monash University, then studied the bone structure imaged by the CT scanner, revealing that the head was that of a female.
Additional analysis also revealed that Meritamun lived in ancient Egypt and stood about 5 feet, 4 inches (approximately 163 centimeters) tall.
First, they 3D printed the head
“The idea of the project is to take this relic and, in a sense, bring her back to life by using all the new technology,” said Varsha Pilbrow, a biological anthropologist who teaches anatomy in the University of Melbourne, in a statement .
It took 140 hours of printing time to produce the skull used to reconstruct Meritamun's face. A simple consumer-level 3D printer was used.
Sculptor Jennifer Mann used the 3D-printed skull to reconstruct Meritamun's face.
The 140 hours does not count the "imaging" work that was put into play.
“It has been a hugely rewarding process to be able to transform the skull from CT data on a screen into a tangible thing that can be handled and examined,” said Gavan Mitchell, the imaging technician.
Researchers chose a dark olive hue as her skin tone and modeled her hair on Lady Rai's, an Egyptian woman who lived around 1570-1530 BCE.
The printing of the ancient Egyptian mummy's face is just the beginning. More will be unraveled: how did she die? What diseases did she have? Where was she from? What did she eat?