Grain mummy goes to the hospital

SUZANNE DAVIS, Curator of Conservation

Last week our colleagues Ron Bude and Michele Sakala, who are MDs in the Radiology Department of  the University of Michigan Health System, arranged for the Kelsey’s grain mummy (and his friends cat mummy and hawk mummy) to have CT scans at the U-M Hospital.

The grain mummy and the animal mummies positioned on the CT scanner bed.


These little mummies are not sick! But CT scanning — computerized tomography scanning — is a great, nondestructive way to look inside an archaeological artifact. This technique uses x-rays, but it’s more detailed than a regular x-ray. The scanner takes images from many different angles, and then special software combines these to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of what was scanned.


Patient identification sign on the scanner.


With CT scanning, we’re hoping to see what’s actually inside these objects. For example, what kind of grain is inside the grain mummy? And, are there any little amulets in there with it? What about the cat mummy? Does it actually have cat bones inside?

We don’t have results yet, so stay tuned! We did have a great time at the hospital, which is not something one often says, and the Kelsey artifacts were quite popular with Radiology staff members. Apparently, when you use radiology every day as a diagnostic tool for humans, a cat mummy makes a nice change of pace!


Dr. Ron Bude and the U-M Radiology team who assisted with the scans.

One thought on “Grain mummy goes to the hospital

  1. Caroline 10/28/2016 / 12:12 am

    Suzanne, let me know what results you get. As you know, our own little grain mummy at the NCMA went to the hospital a couple of years ago and I’d be curious to compare scans!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s