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Secrets and Science
Intro Mass Spectrometry Extracting Mummy DNA Deciphering Disease in Ancient Mummies Limits of the New Science
Scientist holding test tubesIn the study of ancient Egypt, modern scientific techniques are providing fresh insight into an already rich historical and archaeological record. Remote sensing technologies, borrowed from geophysics and other disciplines, are giving archaeologists a new lens through which to spy buried artifacts, buildings, and tombs. Modern medical diagnostic methods, like x-ray, CT-scans, endoscopy, and tissue biopsies, are allowing researchers to paint a vivid picture of the health of ancient Egyptians and the diseases that plagued them, while also providing new information about the very roots of disease in civilizations. Sophisticated chemical analyses are finally letting Egyptologists test some long-held theories about the role of recreational drugs and plant chemicals in the lives of the ancients, and to study their diet and nutrition. Finally, DNA analyses--despite the specter of contamination and bad data--are permitting researchers to decipher the complicated relationships among the pharaohs and the ethnic background of the workers who built the pyramids.

With these new techniques and others, science is helping to deepen our understanding of the past like never before. Click on the links above to learn more about these fascinating scientific techniques!

For more information: Cyber Mummy, Archaeological Geophysics.

Secrets of the Pharaohs