I have been fascinated with ancient Egypt since I first started learning about it in grade school. Pharaohs, pyramids, sun gods, mummies and the afterlife excited my young mind and drove me to read more and more about them. This fascination continues today and I am very excited to be heading to Egypt for the first time next month, visiting Cairo, Aswan and Luxor – bring on the history. With my trip planning in full swing, a headline on ReadWriteWeb caught by attention “Click Here to Resurrect the Dead: 3D Printing Brings Pharaoh Back to Death.”
The article highlights a project by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities that is utilizing CT scanning and a Materialise Mammoth Stereolithograph to create an exact replica of King Tut’s mummy that will be part of a museum exhibition in New York, allowing more people to see the famous King, without risking damage to the actual mummy. Check out the video below to see how it was done.
The process is of course high-tech and probably cost a ton (which will undoubtedly be made up in ticket sales), but it certainly makes you think about that possibilities that may exist creating replicas of important artifacts in the future. To me, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched, as Curt Hopkins of ReadWriteWeb points out, to create a replica in your own home at some point. But on a more immediate basis, it seems entirely possible to use the CT technology to at least digitize a lot of artifacts so that a much wider audience can access to three dimensional images of them online -and why not make these images available under a Creative Commons license so they can be shared more freely? This greater access could mean new insights on ancient artifacts and could lead to new understandings of the past.
Of course, plenty of museums and cultural authorities are digitizing works, but not many are doing it in the 3D realm, or openly sharing CT scans that provide much more specific and detailed information than a standard image. And beyond the digital image, you might just want to create our own King Tut as a centerpiece for your next dinner party – now that is a conversation starter!