Scientists at a leading laboratory in the United States are using a cutting-edge form of X-ray to scan inside an Egyptian mummy that has never been unwrapped since its excavation a century ago.
This is the first time that such a high intensity synchrotron X-ray will have been used on a mummy, with the aim of producing an extremely detailed three-dimensional analysis of the body and any other objects hidden below the linen bindings.
This is also an unusual mummy, because not only has the body been preserved, but so too has a portrait of the child's face.
This mummy, from a collection on the campus of Northwestern University in Chicago, is believed to contain the body of a five-year-old girl, who died about 1,900 years ago.'Mummy portraits'
Not only was her body mummified, her portrait was painted and placed on top of the cloths wrapped tightly around her.
The mummy had been excavated in 1911 by the English archaeologist, Sir William Flinders Petrie, in Hawara in Egypt, and was brought the following year to a college in Chicago.
Since then, the mummy has been put on display and appeared in exhibitions, but has been left intact, unlike many that were cut open.
But this year, for the first time, researchers have begun looking inside.
The mummy became the first to be examined using synchrotron X-rays. This process sends narrow beams of intense light to map any structures below the surface.
Medical researchers want to examine the bone tissue and teeth. The investigation is at an early stage, but there are also questions about what seems to be an object inside the skull, presumably after the brain was removed as part of the mummification.
The researchers are hoping that this will tell them something about the positioning of the body and the process of mummification.
There are also signs of some kind of wire around the head and feet, reports BBC.