Lasers, x-rays and infrared help discover the secrets of ancient Egyptian mummies
Modern technology ‘shines a light’ on what everyday life in ancient Egypt was like by using lasers, x-rays and infrared to examine the bones of mummies.
A number of bone samples dating from 2,000 to 4,000 years have been tested using the Advanced Light Source at Berkeley Labs in California.
It works by subjecting the bones to different wavelengths of bright light that can be used to explore the chemistry, structure and other properties of the samples.
“The bones act as an archive,” said Mohamed Kasem of the University of Cairo working on the research.
Researchers investigated bone fragments from four ancient Egyptian dynasties that ended around 2,000 years ago in the Greco-Roman period when it was thought that this mummified mother and child were embalmed
In the study, the researchers made ‘very thin slices’ of the femur, which they hope can show how people lived, their diet, health and daily life.
A number of discoveries about how people lived in ancient Egypt are already being revealed thanks to the research – although much more time is needed to analyze the data, Dr. Said said. Kasem.
The team used a chemical analysis technique, in which a short laser pulse blows a small volume of material from a sample.
The radiated light from the explosion is then studied to determine which elements are present.
They made ‘very thin slices’ of the femur as part of the study, which they hope can show how people lived, their diet, health and daily life
The study was conducted at the Advance Light Source facility at Brkley Labs in California in collaboration with visiting specialists from the University of Cairo
‘We have found lead, aluminum and other elements that give us an indication of the environment and the toxicity of that time. That information is stored in the middle of the bones, “Dr. said. Kasem.
For example, while ancient Egyptians did not use aluminum in metalworking, researchers discovered that they used potassium aluminum, a chemical compound containing aluminum, to reduce turbidity in drinking water.
The team used x-rays to study how the collagen in the bones of the mummies relates to modern people.
When an x-ray shines through the collagen, the x-rays are scattered and the scattering pattern they make allows researchers to show how healthy and well-preserved the collagen is.
The collagen assemblies are generally not arranged as well in the old monsters as in healthy modern bones, said Eric Schaible, a scientist from Berkley.
The monsters were extracted from two Egyptian sites – Saqqara, the site of an ancient cemetery and Aswan, the site of an ancient city on the banks of the Nile, once known as Swenett
Thanks to the research, a number of discoveries about how people lived in ancient Egypt are already revealed, although much more time is needed to analyze the data
The samples were brought from Egypt by scientists from the University of Cairo and represent four different dynasties in Egypt: the Middle Kingdom, the second intervening period, the late period and the Greco-Roman period.
They also investigated soils from cemeteries of human remains.
‘There are so many factors that influence conservation. One is how long the bone has been buried in the soil and also the state of the bone and the different types of soil, “Dr. said. Kasem.
Differences in balsam techniques can also influence bone retention and the chemistry they find in the X-ray examinations.
“There are different qualities in the materials, such as the cloth and the resins that they used to embalve,” he said.
The soil samples will help distinguish whether chemical concentrations in the bone samples were related to the health, diet, and daily life of the person, or whether the chemicals in the soil had altered bone chemistry over time.
The monsters were extracted from two Egyptian sites – Saqqara, the site of an ancient burial site, and Aswan, the site of an ancient town on the banks of the Nile, once known as Swenett.
It is hoped that research into the interaction of the soil with the bones could help in future projects to preserve mummified remains.
“It is very exciting to be involved in this project and to learn about the journey these mummies have gone through in life and after death,” Dr. said. Schaible.
HOW OLD EGYPTENERS HAVE KILLED THEIR KILLS?
It is thought that a series of chemicals were used to embalve and preserve the bodies of the dead in ancient cultures.
Russian scientists believe that a different balm was used to preserve the hair fashion of that time than the brews that were applied to the rest of the body.
Hair was treated with a balm made from a combination of beef fat, castor oil, beeswax and pine gum and with a drop of aromatic pistachio oil as an optional extra.
Mummification in ancient Egypt removes the internal organs from the corpse, dehydrates the body with a mixture of salts and then wraps it in a cloth soaked in a balm of plant extracts, oils and resins.
Older mummies are thought to have been preserved naturally by burying them in dry desert sand and not chemically treated.
Gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (GC / MS) techniques have been used in recent years to find out more about the old balm process.
Studies have shown that bodies were embalmed with: a vegetable oil, such as sesame oil; phenolic acids, probably from an aromatic plant extract; and polysaccharide sugars from plants.
The recipe also contained dehydroabetic acid and other needle resin diterpenoids.