Museums are among the leading lights in discovering the power of 3D printing to translate history into a tactile, engaging set of objects for their patrons, and now the new permanent Egyptian exhibition at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (MOMNEA) in Stockholm is making the hidden details of Neswaiu’s mummy available in digital form.
The mummy from the museum’s extensive collection has been digitized using capture technology to create an interactive exhibition experience for visitors called the Inside Explorer Table, and the exhibit also includes a number of 3D prints.
Neswaiu, the man whose mummy provided the subject of the exhibit, lived in the third century BC where he presided over the temple of the god Montu in Thebes. He belonged to the upper classes of Egyptian society and he lived until the age of 50 or 60 years old, a very advanced age in ancient Egypt, and researchers believe he ultimately succumbed due to an infection in one of his teeth which likely caused blood poisoning.
MOMNEA says the project was aimed at setting a new benchmark for the way museums use 3D digitization, interactive tools, and 3D printing to make their collections available to the widest range of other museums, researchers, and museum patrons.
As a starting point, the mummies were shipped from the museum in Stockholm to Linköping University Hospital where a group of experts oversaw the process of scanning them with a dual energy Siemens Somatom Definition Flash CT scanner.
The team of radiology and forensic experts developed a set of protocols to assure the mummies were captured in intricate detail, and one benefit of the process is that it revealed the interior structure of the mummies and their material makeup.
The project was led by Interspectral, a team of experts in intuitive interactive visualization experiences based on 3D surface and volumetric data whose technology is used by customers world-wide. Using their tool they call Inside Explorer, a visualization software which builds objects scanned by 3D reality capture technologies, Interspectral has created interactive content from human anatomy to the mummies to Martian meteorites. They say that “anything which can be scanned, can be visualized, and used as the basis for an interactive experience.”
Autodesk and 3D measurement technology company FARO also used their unique capabilities to create models of the surfaces, colors, and textures of the mummy, cartonnage, and the sarcophagus. The items were surface scanned with photogrammetry and laser scanning methods, and the resulting data was processed with Autodesk ReCap to create a textured surface mesh of startling detail.
One result of the project is a gestural, multi-touch table which allows visitors to explore the mummy in its entirety or zoom in to reveal fine detail like the carving marks on the surface of the sarcophagus. This interactive tool also allows viewers to ‘remove’ the outer casings, unwrap the mummy, and even peel off layers of the body to reveal its anatomy and artifacts wrapped up together with the body.
Various parts of the digital models have also been 3D printed to further enhance the visitor experience and to improve access for any visually impaired patrons by providing a hands-on experience.
One example of the 3D printed pieces is a golden amulet in the shape of a falcon which was embedded within the mummy.
This falcon was digitized from the CT scan data and then recreated with 3D printing and traditional metal casting to fabricate the finished product. The process means visitors can physically hold and touch an exact replica of this golden amulet in their hands to experience an object which was wrapped with the mummy over 2000 years ago and, if not for 3D printing technology, would be inaccessible and wrapped with the folds of Neswaiu’s mummy where it still lies in state with him.
What do you think about this project which revealed the secrets of Neswaiu’s Mummy using 3D scanning and printing? Let us know in the Neswaiu Mummy forum thread on 3DPB.com.