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Culture

What secrets do mummies hold? Science unravels all at Turin Egypt exhibition

Gonzalo Sánchez / Turin (Italy) / Kha and Merit lived in Egypt more than three thousand years ago and now their mummified bodies at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, have been virtually unraveled by technology in a bid to shine a light on the lives they had. 

This is just one of the features of the museum’s Invisible Archeology temporary exhibit, which seeks to explore how modern scientific methods can reveal millennia-old details and turn back the pages of time.

It’s a bit like the CSI of archeology,” said the exhibition’s curator, Enrico Ferraris.

Technology allowed researchers to salvage the story behind an object and give it is historical significance, Ferraris added.

Nowadays, experts use non-invasive methods to study the mummies, unlike in the past when they were often pillaged, sloppily unwrapped and sometimes even pulverized into medicine of dubious efficacy.

The Invisible Archeology exhibit at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, which is considered a leading establishment in Egyptology second only to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, looks at the lives of Kha and his wife Merit, who were discovered in Deir el-Medina, near the Valley of the Kings, by Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906.

Thanks initially to X-rays and then later to CT scans and modern computer software, the mummies have been virtually unraveled to reveal details of their marriage by peeling back the layers of linen that remain untouched since the day they departed the world.

Kha was a renowned architect in the 18th Dynasty (1423-1353 BC) and wears a gold necklace, denoting his high status. He died aged around 60 and shows signs of having some sort of osteoarthritis and an inflamed elbow, perhaps from his time working in the quarry.

Under the fabrics wrapped around Kha’s mummy, there are pieces of gold and a stone necklace resembling a beetle with an inscription written on it from the Book of the Dead, which was believed to give its wearer an advantage for the final judgment from Osiris going into the afterlife.

Less is known of Merit. She died young, before her husband, and traveled into the afterlife with a large wig – and even had a spare one in her coffin – a gold necklace.

CT scans showed that neither Kha nor Merit had their organs removed, as was traditional in funeral rites of the 18th Dynasty.

The exhibition does not only shine a light on the married couple, however. Scans of a mummified cat showed a skeletal body under wraps and two unidentified objects placed in its eye sockets.

The technology also served to bust some acts of Ancient Egyptian fraud, such as the case of the massive mummified crocodile, which served as an offering to the god Sobek, but actually only contained a small lizard.

The exhibition uses science to explore the human side of history, for which reason it concludes with a reference to the so-called father of scientific method Galileo Galilei, who once said that, in order to understand the universe, we must understand the mathematical language in which it is written, “without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.” (March 2019, EFE/Practica Español)

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Question 1
The text speaks of... (El texto se habla de...)  
A
cuáles son las técnicas que se están utilizando para estudiar a las momias. 
B
cuáles son las principales dinastías del Antiguo Egipto.
C
cuáles fueron los más recientes descubrimientos arqueológicos en Egipto.
Question 2
According to the text, the experts are using... (Según el texto, los expertos están utilizando...)    
A
nuevas técnicas para evitar que se dañen las momias.
B
técnicas que son muy invasivas.
C
solo las mismas técnicas que fueron utilizadas por los primeros arqueólogos.
Question 3
According to the text... (Según el texto...)  
A
unos expertos descartan que sea posible desvendar a las momias virtualmente.
B
ya es posible que las vendas de las momias sean retiradas virtualmente.
C
los expertos aún no saben cómo se podrían desvendar a las momias virtualmente.
Question 4
A 'tomography' is done to... (Se realiza una 'tomografía' para...)    
A
extraer una muestra del tejido de las vendas de la momia.
B
obtener imágenes de una parte del cuerpo de la momia.
C
quitar físicamente el vendaje de una momia.
Question 5
According to the video, the radiology... (Según el vídeo, la radiología...)  
A
no permite aportar más información sobre las momias.
B
podría empezar a utilizase para estudiar a las momias.
C
está siendo utilizada para estudiar con más detalle a las momias.
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