Strangers in a strange land: the ancient Egyptian mummies of Macquarie University

Yann Tristant, John Magnussen, Ellen Ryan, Jacinta Carruthers, Leonie Donovan, Adam Fazzolari, Olivier Rochecouste, Ronika Power

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Strangers in a Strange Land is an interdisciplinary research project enhancing the partnership between the Department of Ancient History and Macquarie Medical Imaging, Macquarie University Hospital. The project aims to undertake scientific investigation of archaeologically-derived human remains from ancient Egypt using non-invasive techniques, especially high resolution CT scanning as well as 3D printing, 3D geometric morphometrics and forensic facial reconstruction. The first stage of the project was designed to operate as a research proof-of-concept in order to ascertain its suitability for the biocultural investigation of archaeologically-derived human remains. The methodology was applied in May 2012 to a single specimen from the Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University. A mummified human head (MU1695) on permanent loan from the Australian Museum (Sydney) was studied using an high resolution imaging CT-scanner. This equipment enables the examination of the smallest anatomical and pathological structures at the highest possible resolution available for clinical diagnostic purposes. The second stage of the project was initiated in December 2013 with the study of a complete Egyptian mummy (MU2670) from the Australian Museum on permanent exhibition in the Museum of Ancient Cultures. This study enabled original contributions regarding the anatomical description of the mummified remains, their cultural, religious and technological significance, and different aspects related to mummification practices and other post-mortem engagement with bodies in antiquity. The benefits of the non-invasive methods employed for this project are significant. Scientific investigations combining non-destructive analysis with 3D printing for 3D geometric morphometric analyses and facial reconstruction, are at the forefront of international research in the study of Egyptian mummies. This cutting-edge process combines the expertise of archaeologists, Egyptologists, physical anthropologists, forensic anatomists and medical practitioners in a single interdisciplinary project. It also affords a great opportunity to test and develop innovative methodologies that can be applied to curated ancient human remains in other Australian museums.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014) - Sydney
Duration: 16 Jul 201418 Jul 2014


ConferenceThe Australasian Egyptology Conference (3rd : 2014)


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