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University College London

Computer processing of mummy cartonnage spectral images to assess non-destructive imaging. Courtesy of the Deep Imaging Mummy Cast Project, University College London.

Developing non-destructive methods to read texts in mummy cartonnages

$83,000; 2015–2016

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In the Ptolemaic and early Roman periods Egyptians produced ornate mummy casings from used papyri. As a result, the casings often preserve texts of historical significance that are otherwise lost. In the 19th and early 20th century they constituted a rich source of ancient documents recovered by scholars. Because the process of recovery irrevocably destroys the mummy casings, it was largely abandoned by the mid-20th century.

The team at UCL works to develop digital imaging technologies to recover texts without destroying the mummy casings that preserve them. All software, technical specifications, images and metadata will be hosted online under a Creative Commons CC-BY licence. They will be free to use for anyone who wishes to build on the findings.

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