Virtual autopsy reveals 5,000-year-old mummy was murdered
Published Monday, November 19, 2012 10:13PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 19, 2012 11:45PM EST
A mummy that has been on display in Britain for more than 100 years is now at the centre of a murder mystery, after a virtual autopsy revealed that more than 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptian was stabbed.
The mummy known as Gebelein man -- named for the region where he was discovered by archeologists in 1896 -- is one of the most popular exhibits at the British Museum in London.
The mummy is so popular that he has a nickname: Ginger.
But it was only this fall that researchers gave Ginger a CT scan, a high-resolution X-ray that revealed for the first time more precise information about his death.
That high-resolution look at his skeleton revealed an indentation in the right shoulder and pieces of shattered rib that had settled in the surrounding soft tissue, all perfectly preserved.
“The fracture pattern suggests that this was done when the bone was fresh, all of which points to him being stabbed in the back,” Dr. Daniel Antoine, curator of physical anthropology at the museum, says in a video on the facility’s website.
“It’s very likely that what we’ve had on display in the galleries for many, many years was the victim of a murder, and it’s only now that we are truly finding out who this person was.”
Antoine added in an interview with CTV News that Ginger was the victim of “a single blow with a lot of force.”
While technology has uncovered Ginger’s cause of death, it’s far too late for the curators to determine a motive or search for suspects.
Besides cause of death, the autopsy revealed that Ginger likely died between the ages of 18 and 21.
Museum-goers can come up with their own theories after studying the autopsy results in an interactive display, which includes 3D images of the body that can be manipulated on a touch screen.
One child at the museum suggested that perhaps he came upon some “baddies, and they just went up to him and stabbed him in the back.”
Another wondered if Gebelein man hadn’t been on the losing end of a popularity contest.
With a report from CTV’s London correspondent Ben O’Hara-Byrne