Mummy to be scanned at Stanford at Aug. 20

Radiologists at the Stanford University School of Medicine will tend to an unlikely patient on Aug. 20: A more than 2,000-year-old mummy believed to be an ancient Egyptian priest.

The mummy, who belongs to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, will arrive at Stanford in a climate-controlled truck around noon on Aug. 20. There, radiologists will use cutting-edge computed tomography, or CT, scans to peer through its dressings at the preserved body inside. The scans will enable scientists to create three-dimensional images of the body from the inside out. Researchers also plan to use images of the man’s skull to build a clay reconstruction of his face, providing a peek at what he might have looked like. In addition to those uses, the scans may help to determine what materials the ancient Egyptian is wrapped in.

Reporters can view the scanning at 1:30 p.m. in the basement of the Grant Building on the medical school campus (see map). Parking is available in Parking Structure 1 at Campus Drive and Roth Way.

As space is limited, reporters, photographers and videographers may need to rotate through the scan room several at a time. A conference room has been reserved where media can conduct interviews with Stanford radiologist Rebecca Fahrig, PhD, as well as Renee Dreyfus, FAMSF antiquities curator, and Jonathan Elias of the Ahkmin Mummy Studies Consortium. Preliminary images of the mummy’s skull will be available for viewing.

After scans are completed at the Grant Building, the mummy will go to another Stanford imaging center, where additional scans will be conducted. The mummy will then return to San Francisco, where it will be the centerpiece of the Legion of Honor’s “Very Postmortem: Mummies and Medicine” exhibition which opens on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2009.

The mummy is thought to be that of Iret-net Hor-irw, who was a minor priest in the city of Ahkmim on the east bank of the Nile in Egypt. X-rays done in 1970 suggest that he was in his mid-20s when he died of unknown causes. The mummy had been on loan to the Haggin Museum in Stockton, Calif., but was returned this month to the San Francisco museums in preparation for the new exhibition. He will remain on display at the Legion of Honor through the summer of 2010.

What: Mummy scan

When: 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20

Where: Room S-084 in the basement of the Grant Building on the Stanford medical school campus (map)


From 101: Take the University Avenue West exit (toward Palo Alto/Stanford). As you enter the gates to Stanford, University Avenue becomes Palm Drive. Continue on Palm Drive to Arboretum Road, at the traffic light. Turn right on Arboretum. At the next light, turn left on Quarry Road. Continue on Quarry Road, crossing Campus Drive, to Parking Structure 1. The Grant Building is across Campus Drive and the Quarry Extension.

From 280: Take the Sand Hill Road exit to the east (toward Palo Alto/Stanford). Turn right on Pasteur Drive. Turn right from Pasteur Drive onto Welch Road and follow until it dead-ends into Campus Drive. Turn left on Campus Drive and follow around the curve. The School of Medicine is on your left. Guest parking is available in Parking Structure 1 on the right side of Campus, at Roth Way. The Grant Building is across Campus Drive and the Quarry Extension.

Stephanie Pappas is a science-writing intern for the Office of Communication & Public Affairs.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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