Utah Museum Highlights Modern Uses of Ancient Mummies

Jan 17, 2016

Mummies of the World is on view at The Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City, with recently discovered mummies from Hungary, as well as mummies from Ancient Egypt and South America. 


Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger

One of the new parts of the exhibition involves 21st century technology being incorporated into the study of ancient mummies.  Scientists like James Schanandore, mummy researcher and associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, have begun using 3D scanning and printing to replicate ancient mummies in order to respect the wishes of the dead.

“If you look at the Egyptian culture, when you destroy that body, it destroys the body for that individual in the afterlife. So if we want to be respectful for the culture and that individual, if we actually want to be ethically researching these mummies, then we have to do it non-invasively. One way to do that is to CT scan the mummies.  That’s one thing we do a lot.  We can get the same analysis and information from them through what we call ‘virtopsy’…You virtually go in and pull that data out,” said Schanandore.

Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger

The Leonardo’s mummy exhibition also highlights contemporary study of mummies by scientists and doctors, even including a modern mummy that was carefully mummified by scientists according to the ancient Egyptian techniques.  Doctors like Ronn Wade, director of anatomical services at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, are actively recruiting the living to sign up to donate their bodies to a program that will provide valuable material to medical students, with the ultimate goal of saving lives in the future. 

Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger

“These young guys and gals need to be trained, especially medics.  I’m really big on medics because that keep them breathing, stop the bleeding until you can get them to where they can really get treatment … It does impact upon the quality of life, and if you have a medical student who’s spending several months dissecting the body and learning anatomy.  That’s the foundation and he’s going to carry that with him every time he takes a historian physical and depending on where he goes,” said Wade.

Mummies of the World is on view at The Leonardo in Salt Lake through March 6.  

Credit Photo: Mikey Kettinger