Medelhavsmuseets mummies on a virtual autopsy table

By using unique technology, Medelhavsmuseet (the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities) has made it possible to digitally place human mummies on a virtual autopsy table. The work took place in advance of the new exhibition on Egypt at Medelhavsmuseet and began when six of the museum's mummies were x-rayed using the CT scanner at Linköping University Hospital.

This work took place in collaboration with Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, Visualization Center C and CMIV in Norrköping/Linköping. The project was based on current research within visualisation and interaction design, and its goal was to connect research and cultural history with the help of the latest technology, in the form of interactive visualisation.

Medelhavsmuseet currently looks after eight Egyptian mummies. The museum's mummies are of great interest to the general public, and are the focus of many visits, by adults and children alike. With the help of the visualisation table, originally developed for healthcare, but which, today, is also used to educate and inform visitors at several museums and science centres, Medelhavsmuseets' visitors are able to, for the first time, study a mummy in detail, on their own and based on their own personal interest. With simple gestures they can investigate complex data, which would normally only be available to researchers. The visitor can also, themselves, choose the language, level of information and subject.

"Using the table we can describe the individual's health and fate, the mummification process and the ancient Egyptians' assumptions about the life thereafter."
Sofia Häggman, Egyptologist, Medelhavsmuseet

In the project, the mummies and their associated sarcophagi have been completely documented in 3D using the very latest techniques in computed tomography, laser scanning and photogrammetry By combining these different types of data, an entirely new level of realism can be achieved.

"The collaboration with Medelhavsmuseet makes it possible for us to further develop the visualisation tools. Together we will complete the most advanced mummy visualisation project ever. We believe the project will have a great impact internationally, and will set a new standard for the use of digitalisation in museums."
Thomas Rydell, Studio Director, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT

Our shared vision is to create a strong interactive experience, where the distance between research and the general public is minimal, something which should be of benefit to the entire museum sector. The end result is integrated into Medelhavsmuseets' exhibition about Egypt (with children and young people as the primary target group) in the form of an interactive table which, for the first time, gives the visitor the opportunity to, on their own, virtually investigate one of the museum's mummies.