Scanner spots spear in Egyptian mummy

Mummy Scan
The mummy of a child, dating back to Egypt's Ptolemaic Dynasty, is placed in a CT scan machine on Wednesday.CMNH via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A CT scan of an ancient Egyptian mummy revealed a spearlike object in the upper spine and skull, but scientists say they don't know whether that's what killed the child.

The scan, done Wednesday at a Pittsburgh hospital, also revealed that the child, who lived more than 2,000 years ago, was likely between 3 and 5 years old, younger than previously thought. X-rays in 1986 had led scientists to believe that the child was about 8 when it died.

The earlier scan also showed that the child had an unusually large head, and researchers still don't know what caused the abnormality, said Ellen James, spokeswoman for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Scientists also could not confirm the sex of the child.

As for the spear, "They don't know if that was the cause of death or if the embalmers did that to keep the head steady in the sarcophagus," she said.

Scientists say they acquired good images of bone structure and the child's face and hope to someday have a facial reconstruction on display at the Pittsburgh museum, James said.

The mummy of the child, who lived sometime between 380 B.C. and 250 B.C., dates to the Ptolemaic Dynasty and was acquired by the museum in 1912. It has been on display there museum since 1989.