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Reconstructing the Face of a 2,000-Year-Old Mummy

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Meritamun, an Egyptian woman, has been dead for at least 2,000 years—and for nearly a century, her head has been stored at the University of Melbourne. (The University is uncertain how they acquired her or why her mummified head wound up in the basement of their medical building.)

Recently, a multidisciplinary team from the university—including the faculty of medicine, dentistry, and health sciences—utilized medical research, forensic science, computerized tomographic (CT) scanning, 3-D printing, Egyptology, and art to reconstruct how this woman looked when she was alive. The team of researchers guess that she was between 18 and 25 years old at the time of her death. (They also gave her the name “Meritamun,” meaning “beloved of the god Amun.”)

The team is still learning about her, attempting to determine, as exactly as possible, when she lived, where she was from, what she ate, what diseases she had, and finally, why she died.

Dr. Varsha Pilbrow, a biological anthropologist teaching anatomy in the department of anatomy and neuroscience, says that through Meritamun, students “will be able to learn how to diagnose pathology marked on our anatomy, and learn how whole population groups can be affected by the environments in which they live.”

To read more about how the University of Melbourne engaged in this remarkable recreation, click here. Watch a time lapse of the process below.