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By Larry Adams
In addition to confirming the ages of the deceased, the MDCT images revealed evidence of scurvy, a fatal disease characterized by general weakness, anemia, gum disease and internal bleeding. Based on cut marks found in one of the skulls, researchers also believe the surviving colonists on Saint Croix Island initiated the first autopsy to better understand the disorder that was killing their compatriots.
"This is one of the first MDCT investigations of the skeletal remains of early colonists," says Dr. Benson. "But, because MDCT is such a robust tool for the anthropological analysis of human remains, we're beginning to see more forensic medical examiners and anthropologists incorporating CT and magnetic resonance imaging into their work."
RESTORING ANCIENT ART
In another example of a more diverse use of a medical imaging tool, a team of radiologists are using CT and 3-D modeling to help restore a 5,300-year-old Egyptian mummy mask.
The mask, owned by the Saint Louis Art Museum in Missouri, is from the mummy of an Egyptian noblewoman and is constructed of gauze, bitumen, gold, glass, wood and paint. It depicts the image of a woman's face and upper body. Her arms appear to be folded, and she holds two amulets.
Dr. Douglas Robertson of the University of Pittsburgh and his team performed volumetric CT imaging on the mask. The researchers were able to identify previously unknown aspects of the mask's composition, including the number of wood pieces used to create the amulets. In addition, texture mapping revealed that surfaces, such as the bead details, previously thought to be flat were actually embossed.