Montreal mummies come to life through facial reconstruction
New technology and 3D scans allow scientists a glimpse into the past
The mummies at McGill University's Redpath museum have been on display for more than 100 years. But for the first time, a team of scientists has taken a closer look at the faces behind the bandages.
A team of scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute used CT scans to create 3D reconstructions of the mummies' faces.
The facial reconstructions of the three mummies — a young man, a young woman, and an older white-haired woman, were unveiled on Friday at the Redpath Museum.
One of the project's most interesting discoveries was evidence of the earliest dental surgery ever performed.
Andrew Wade, a postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at Western University, said researchers saw linen packing on one of the mummies' teeth meant to treat a cavity.
"It was really exciting because that was a first," Wade said.
Victoria Lywood, a forensic artist at John Abbott College, worked with the 3D scans to reconstruct the mummies' faces.
"I could see the faces on different levels, how they looked without the bandages. It was stunning," Lywood said.
Researchers expect the anthropological analyses of the scans will help provide insight into how these people lived and died. Their data will provide information on demographics, social statuses and medical ailments.
Lywood said she was surprised to see the mummies did not look like the typical Cleopatra-style Egyptian.
"These were just ordinary Egyptians," she said.
For months, Lywood worked on the three reconstructed faces out of her home.
"It gets a little creepy at my place … Sometimes I have to get up and turn them around," she said.
The mummies, which are estimated to have been first entombed nearly 2,000 years ago, were first scanned in April 2011 at the Montreal Neurological Institute. The high-resolution 3D images were then analysed and used as a basis to create the reconstructions that are now on display.