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3D Printing Reveals the Youthful Face of a 2,000-Year-Old Woman

by • August 18, 2016 • No Comments

e637cb9c2bdc425bb4aee75cf20b16ce5eb2305d0908aaeaa7013d7b0e7bIt seems to be Mummy Week in the 3D printing world. Just the other day, we covered a story of a Maidstone Museum project that can use 3D printing to reconstruct the face of a 2,500-year-old mummy named Ta Kush. In Australia, a much like project has been accomplished by a team of researchers and artists at the University of Melbourne. Meet Meritamun, a young Egyptian woman who lived of 2,000 years ago and has now been given a face.

The university is not certain where the mummified head in the basement of the medical assembling came of, but it’s possible it was part of the collection of Professor Frederic Wood Jones, who became head of the anatomy department in 1930 after working on an archaeological project in Egypt. The mummified head is carefully preserved in an archival container in the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, part of the School of Biomedical Sciences. The museum is curated by Dr. Ryan Jefferies, who became concerned that the tightly bandaged head may be decaying of the within without anyone knowing.

There was no way to remove the bandages without injure, so a CT scan was taken to evaluate the condition of the skull, that turned out to be in remarkably excellent shape. That’s when a much larger project was invented.

meritamun“The CT scan opened up a whole lot of inquiries and avenues of enquiry and we realised it was a excellent forensic and teaching opportunity in collaborative research,” said parasitologist Dr. Jefferies.

Dr. Janet Davey is a forensic Egyptologist at Monash University and is based at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, where the CT scan took place. She was excited for the opportunity to additional closely study the skull, that she determined as belonging to a woman based on the satisfactory bone structure and angle of the jaw, as well as the roundness of the eye sockets and narrowness of the roof of the mouth. Her conclusions were confirmed by facial reconstruction tremendous Professor Caroline Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University, and a name was given to the ancient woman: Meritamun, that translates to “beloved of Amun,” a deity of the Egyptian pantheon.

From there, work began on determining what Meritamun may have appeared like when she was alive. Dr. Davey guesses that she was of 162 cm tall, based on the generally accepted assumption that folks in ancient times were shorter than folks in our day. Tooth decay suggests that she may have lived after 331 BC, when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and sugar was introduced by the Greco-Romans, but honey may in addition have cautilized the decay, so Meritamun may be actually older – dating back as far as 1500 BC. Dr. Davey is waiting for radiocarbon dating results to get a advantageous thought.

From the CT scans of the skull, imaging technician Gavan Mitchell of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience made a 3D version, that was printed in two parts over a total of 140 hours.


Meritamun’s 3D printed skull.

“It has been a hugely rewarding system to be able-bodied to alter the skull of CT data on a screen into a tangible thing that can be handled and examined,” said Mitchell.

The university has been via CT scanning and 3D printing to allow students to examine precise copies of specimens that may otherwise be too delicate to handle.

“We can now replicate specimens with quite informative pathologies for students to handle and for virtual reality environments without at any time touching the specimen itself,” Mitchell introduced.

The 3D print of Meritamun’s skull may become the base for a reconstruction carried out by sculptor Jennifer Mann, who studied facial reconstruction techniques at Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Center. Mann, whose work at Texas State involved reconstructing the faces of unsynonymous murder victims based on skull casts, states that reconstructions can only approximate the appearance of a man, but her work in Texas came quite close to the actual appearance of actuallytually synonymous victims.

Mann determined what Meritamun may have appeared like via the same techniques that were utilized to return it into the face of Jesus of Nazareth last year. Based on averages in data taken of modern Egyptians, Mann was able-bodied to estimate the tissue depth on key points of the face. On the other hand the bandages have pressed Meritamun’s nose only about flat, Mann approximated the size and shape of her nose via calculations based on the size of the skull’s nasal cavity. The skull in addition announced that Meritamun had a tiny overbite.


Jennifer Mann works on reconstructing Meritamun.

Taking all of that information, Mann applied clay to the 3D printed skull in layers to turn it into facial showcases. The clay sculpture was utilized to cast a polyurethane resin version that was and so painted, and a local hair salon made Meritamun’s long, braided hair based on the appearance of “Lady Rai,” an incredibly well-preserved mummy whose hair had been wrapped in separate bandages. The complexion of ancient Egyptians is not universally agreed-upon, so the researchers took a middle road, selecting a dark olive for Meritamun’s skin.

Meritamun’s age was estimated to be somewhere between 18 and 25, and the CT scans in addition enable-bodiedd Stacey Gorski, a biomedical masters student at Melbourne, to guess how Meritamun died. The scans announced two tooth abcesses as well as pitted, thinned spots on the skull, that points to anemia – probably cautilized by malaria or schistosomiasis, common afflictions in ancient Egypt.

“Anaemia is a quite common pathology that is discovered in bodies of ancient Egypt, but it usually is not quite clear to see unless you can appear directly at the skull,” says Gorski. “But it was completely clear of only appearing at the images.”


Stacey Gorski and supervisor Dr. Varsha Pilbrow.

Gorski plans to do additional research based on a tissue sample taken of the exposed neck. The sample may in addition reveal other information, such as Meritamun’s diet, that may be enable-bodied the researchers to have a advantageous thought of what part of Egypt she lived in. Despite all of the mystery yet surrounding her, howat any time, the attractive woman now displayed at the Harry Brookes museum approximately seems to be alive again.

“I have followed the evidence and an accepted methodology for reconstruction and out of that has emerged the face of someone who has come down to us of so long ago,” said Mann. “It is an awe-inspiring feeling.”

Discuss additional over in the Mummy Facial Reconstruction with 3D Printing forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: University of Melbourne]