Egyptologists are using 3D printers to recreate the contents of mummies to help them with their research at the National Museum in Rio.
Scientists have used CT and X-ray scans to see inside a mummies for a number of years as this preserves the artifact in it’s mummified state. Before this type of technology existed mummies were unwrapped and the bodies dissected in a procedure similar to an autopsy. As the mummies are rare and fragile 3D printing offers a way of seeing the contents without destroying them.
This video from the AP shows how 3D X-ray scans are used to create a computer 3D model of the contents of the mummy which is sent to a 3D printer that creates a replica of the skeleton. These 3D prints can then be used to research the physiology of ancient peoples and give insights into how they died.
3D printing is opening up new ways for experts to examine ancient artifacts without handling them as many valuable objects have been damaged by mishandling. Mummies aren’t the first valuable artifacts to be 3D printed to help preserve them. Antique watches have been 3D printed to help understand how they have been put together and artwork has been recreated to allow more people around the world to appreciate it than otherwise would be possible.