The Virtual Mummy: Unwrapping a Mummy by Mouse Click
The computer has entered our everyday life and did not stop before the field of mummy research. Computerization not only helps scientists in non-destructively examining mummies, but it also makes it possible to create virtual mummies, a sample of which can be seen by the visitors of the exhibition The Secret of the Mummies - Eternal Life at the Nile, and by yourself on screen, with reduced functionality. The object is a 2300-year-old mummy of a female, aged about 30 years.
Naturally, the unwrapping by computer is not any longer the mysterious and thrilling experience a real opening-up of a mummy used to be. But according to modern opinion, such a procedure wouldn't be acceptable anyway, because the dignity of the deceased might be harmed.
The procedure originated from medical research. The initial aim was to provide a highly accurate image of the interior body to improve medical diagnostics, surgical planning, and education of medical students.
For more than 12 years, a group of researchers led by Professor Karl Heinz Höhne, PhD, at the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science in Medicine (IMDM) has done research in the field of anatomical 3D-reconstruction of the living human body. Procedures have improved over the years, and thus, it is nowadays possible to produce computer-based body models (virtual bodies), which can be examined in the way an anatomist or surgeon would do it. With the program named VOXEL-MAN, operations can be simulated and planned in advance, and 3D-anatomical atlases can be produced. In these fields, Höhne's group did pioneering work, like for example in 1987, when the first brain of a living human being was reconstructed. Today, work concentrates on the new field of computer-based surgery simulators.