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Communications of the ACM


Museums Go High-Tech with Digital Forensics

British Museum staffer views scans of a mummy

A British Museum staffer views scans of the mummy of 'Gebelein Man B,' part of the interactive 'Ancient Lives, New Discoveries' exhibition that incorporates state-of-the-art technology enabling visitors to virtually explore inside mummy cases and examine

Credit: Will Oliver / AFP/Getty Images

In 1887, a uniquely shaped and mysterious mummy caught the eye of an important museum collector and hitched a ride from the storehouse of an unknown antiquities dealer in Egypt to the vast vaults of the British Museum in London.

No question, it was a woman. Unlike most of the cases carrying the wealthy dead of ancient Egypt, which depicted their inhabitants in their embalmed state, her case was painted like a woman in the prime of her life. Metal eyes gazed out from a wooden facemask. A painted dark cloak covered the body of the case, and from its base, reddish feet with silver-painted toenails emerged. Who was she?


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