Mummy: The Inside Story

© Photographic imagery courtesy of SGI

Chest showing pectoral and amulets

Egyptian mummies are always popular with museum visitors. They are also an unparalleled source of scientific data, shedding light on physical anthropology, family relationships, life expectancy, nutrition and health, disease and the causes of death. They provide a unique insight into the complex process of mummification and life in ancient Egypt.

For many years, the only way to extract data from Egyptian mummies was to unwrap them - a destructive and irreversible process. Then modern non-invasive imaging techniques - X-rays and Computerised Tomography (CT) scanning - made it possible to look inside a mummy without disturbing the wrappings in any way. Thanks to the latest advances in computer technology, we are now able to perform a 'virtual unwrapping' of a mummy and to embark on a 3D journey within the body, visualising every feature and amulet.

The subject for this ground-breaking experiment is the priest Nesperennub, one of the British Museum's treasured exhibits for over a hundred years. His beautifully painted mummy-case has never been opened since it was sealed up by embalmers in Thebes nearly three thousand years ago. Now we can explore the body within, and even see the face of this man from the distant past.

This tour accompanies the virtual reality film and exhibition Mummy: The Inside Story, which is sponsored by BP.