PreviousNext

Stabbed in the back: The 5,500 year old mummy murder mystery unearthed by a virtual autopsy at the British Museum

By // News | Stabbed in the back: The 5,500 year old mummy murder mystery unearthed by a virtual autopsy at the British Museum
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
  • Ginger, named for his red hair, was found to have been killed by a stab wound on his back after a 3D post-mortem using medical scans
  • Visitors can see the scans and use a touch screen to look inside his body to see if there are any other clues about his life and death

By Mark Prigg and Damien Gayle

PUBLISHED: 03:44 EST, 16 November 2012 | UPDATED: 07:01 EST, 16 November 2012

An ancient mummy who has been on display in the British Museum for over 100 years was a young man murdered by a killer who stabbed him in the back, new research shows.

Scans of the ancient Egyptian, known officially as Gebelein man but nicknamed Ginger for his red hair, show that a puncture just beneath his left shoulderblade was made by his murderer.

Forensic experts studied the scan on a 'virtual autopsy table' concluded that there is almost no doubt he was the victim of a deliberate, violent killing in peacetime.

The scans, which go on display today, allow visitors to virtually zoom through Ginger's body

The scans, which go on display today, allow visitors to virtually zoom through Ginger's body

The Gebelein Man, also known as Ginger for his red hair, a 5,500-year-old mummy displayed in the British Museum. Researchers have found a wound on his back was caused by his murderer

The Gebelein Man, also known as Ginger for his red hair, a 5,500-year-old mummy displayed in the British Museum. Researchers have found a wound on his back was caused by his murderer

Daniel Antoine, the museum's expert on human remains, told The Times: 'His left shoulderblade is slightly damaged.

'You can see that the rib immediately under the shoulderblade has been shattered in such a way that it has splintered into his tissue.

'This shows immense force.

'The force is such that the blade would have penetrated through his lung.'

Shattered bones: This scan image shows how Gingers ribs splintered into his soft tissue after the blade was plunged into his back

Shattered bones: This scan image shows how Gingers ribs splintered into his soft tissue after the blade was plunged into his back

No chance: The fatal wound was inflicted just beneath Ginger's left shoulderblade

No chance: The fatal wound was inflicted just beneath Ginger's left shoulderblade

New display: From today visitors can use a touch screen to look inside Ginger's body to see if there are any other clues about his life and death

New display: From today visitors can use a touch screen to look inside Ginger's body to see if there are any other clues about his life and death

Examinations also showed he was a young man, aged between just 18 and 20 when he was killed, and impressively muscled.

Mr Antoine said he believes a lack of defensive wounds suggest Ginger was the victim of a surprise attack. A blade of copper or sharpened flint at least 5in long and 0.7in wide made the injury, he said.

The way that Ginger's shattered bones remained in the soft tissue surrounding them indicates the injury took place while he was alive.

Professor Anders Persson of the Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization (CMIV), a Forensic Radiology expert, who also uses the virtual autopsy system for criminal and accident cases in Sweden, confirmed the British Museum’s assessment that the force of the blow was such that it also shattered the rib immediately below the shoulder blade, embedding bone fragments into his muscle tissue, and injuring the left lung and surrounding blood vessels.

The absence of any signs of healing and the severity of the injuries suggest that this can be considered the cause of death.

The body, the London museum's most popular attraction after the Rosetta Stone, has rarely been moved since first being put on display in 1901.

Forensic investigation: Scientists examined Ginger using a computer axial tomography (CAT) scanner, with just 30 seconds of scans giving them enough data for a detailed investigation of his insides

Forensic investigation: Scientists examined Ginger using a computer axial tomography (CAT) scanner, with just 30 seconds of scans giving them enough data for a detailed investigation of his insides

To carry out their investigations, curators carried the mummy carefully on a duvet and packed it into a van for the drive to Cromwell Hospital in nearby Earl's Court.

Forensic scientists examined Ginger using a computer axial tomography (CAT) scanner, with just 30 seconds of scans giving them enough data for a detailed investigation of his insides.

The three-dimensional image created by the machine was than imported into software developed by the Interactive Institute which allows investigators to rotate, enlarge and virtually cut layers away.

EGYPT'S PREDYNASTIC PERIOD

The late Neolithic period in Egypt is known as the Predynastic period.

It began in the sixth millennium BC, and ended with the unification of Egypt, which marked the start of the historical period in Egypt.

It is traditionally divided into two subgroups, called the Naqada I period (4000-3500 BC) and the Naqada II period (3500-3100 BC).

Naqada was an important southern town where these periods were first distinguished in modern times.

The inhabitants of Egypt first lived in settlements during the Predynastic period.

Cemeteries were located in the low desert near the settlements, and the north and south of the country were culturally distinct.

The south was administered from the city of Hierakonpolis, while the capital of the north was Buto.

Burials at the time were simple pit graves, in which the corpse was laid in a crouched position and naurally dried by the hot sand.

In later burials, the bodies were sometimes wrapped in mat, and the person's head and limbs bound with cloth.

The objects placed in burials, such as items of jewellery, slate palettes and pots are the main sources of information about this time.

Curators had not even seen the underside of the ancient murder victim for 100 years, Dr Antoine told The Times, but now, using the computer model, they can examine almost all his internal organs in detail.

Further research could now be done to paint a picture of Ginger's final few hours before his killer caught up with him. The British Museum's team should be able to analyse his last meal, Dr Antoine said, and even see what he ate in his last three months by an analysis of his hair and fingernails.

He added: 'Not only have we been able to discover that Gebelein Man was young when he died but, unexpectedly, the 3D visualisation of the CT scan has confirmed that he was stabbed in the back.

'The analysis of ancient human remains rarely reveals the cause of death but the cut on his back, as well as the damage to the underlying shoulder blade and rib, are characteristic of a single penetrating wound.

'The virtual autopsy table has allowed us explore the CT scan data interactively and clearly visualise his skeleton and internal organs, something that is not always possible with other methods.'

Ginger as he was originally displayed at the British Museum

Ginger as he was originally displayed at the British Museum

A new display unveiled today based on the findings allows visitors to use a touch screen to look inside his body to see if there are any other clues about his life and death.

Using the interactive touchscreen and the gesture based interface it is possible to strip away the skin to expose his skeleton, and make virtual slices to view his internal organs and his brain.

David Hughes of the Interactive Institute said ‘This powerful visualisation system has enabled not just remarkable new revelations about one of the British Museum’s most iconic mummies, but also brings the thrill of discovery straight to the gallery for the public.

'Using exactly the same technology that the scientists use, visitors to the museum can now explore for themselves and, who knows, perhaps even make their own new discovery with the exhibit.’

Headlines Newsview all

Muslim hate preacher was allowed to spread jihad in British mosques before London bombings

A MUSLIM hate preacher who was allowed to tour British mosques and spread the message of jihad may have planted the idea of the London ... Full story

Another reason to quit the EU: Foreigners rack up £723m NHS bill

Figures produced by the Department of Health show that, since 2007-8, the UK has paid £6.18billion in health costs for British citizens in Europe – ... Full story

ISIS warns London is next in terror video threatening non-Muslims across Europe

ISLAMIC State has issued a chilling video warning that London is next to be hit by a terror attack at least as deadly as the ... Full story

Police psychological sick leave up 35% in five years

Cases of UK police officers and staff taking long-term sick leave for psychological reasons have risen by 35% over the last five years, statistics obtained ... Full story

Panama Papers: Cameron under pressure over tax havens

David Cameron is coming under pressure to stop British overseas territories and Crown dependencies being used by the wealthy to reduce their tax bills. A massive ... Full story

Donald Trump Is An ‘Idiot’ Whose Nato Comments Are Making Putin Happy, Say British MPs

Donald Trump is an “idiot” for his criticism of Nato and is making Vladimir Putin “very happy”, British MPs have said. On Saturday, the frontrunner in ... Full story

Royal Mint mark Queen's birthday with £5 coin - which could cost you as much as £7,500

Struck by the Royal Mint they have been issued in a variety of finishes and metals, including editions in platinum, gold and silver. The coins feature ... Full story

Feeling the pressure? Cameron snaps with bizarre rant over EU referendum

David Cameron dismissed talk of a split in the Tory party and in a bizarre rant said it was just journalists “setting each others’ hair ... Full story

Leaving Europe is VITAL to protect strained NHS, warns Cabinet minister

Cabinet member and Employment Minister Priti Patel has warned the health service will be better off if the UK votes to leave the EU. She claims ... Full story

Santander cash machine ALERT: Police warn public NOT to use cashpoints over security risk

Forces in both Lancashire and Cheshire have issued alerts over the use of Santander cashpoints as customers' details may be at risk. The warning follows reports ... Full story

Holiday bargains for families as costs tumble across EU: Britons set to save HUNDREDS

Costs across Europe have plummeted as the price of food, drinks and entertainment has been slashed in resorts.  They have nosedived more than 40 per cent ... Full story

Comment on: Stabbed in the back: The 5,500 year old mummy murder mystery unearthed by a virtual autopsy at the British Museum

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

David Cameron told aides he'd rather quit now following Brexit vote

David Cameron made his resignation speech on Friday morning after vote New leader could face immediate challenge of keeping Scotland in the UK Boris Johnson has now ...

Senator Glenn Lazarus crushes a Dodge Journey with a tank in a bizarre election stunt

Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus crushed a car with a military tank The Dodge car was destroyed on Saturday in a filmed election stunt  Mr Lazarus has ...

Jealous teacher attacks his ex-girlfriend colleague in the middle of school ASSEMBLY after finding out she is seeing another man 

PE teacher Florin Alin Ilie drags his ex away during a school assemblyHe slaps her twice and tries to kick her as staff try to break them ...

The truth about standing desks? You may want to sit down: Working upright burns just 72 calories over an ENTIRE working day - the same as a digestive biscuit 

University of Pittsburgh researchers compared standing, sitting, walkingThey found little evidence standing at a desk burned significant calories But they pointed out their 74 volunteers were ...

Brexit supporter Crispin Odey rakes in £220m after betting on stock value falling

Leave supporter Crispin Odey made more than £220million from Brexit Some finance bosses hit the jackpot after gambling on the EU result Mr Odey manages more than ...

EXCLUSIVE - Sunbathing, shopping and pouting Instagram selfies: Peru Two drugs mule 'who found God' parties on parole with cocaine-smuggling pal she met in JAIL

Michaella McCollum Connelly , 23, was jailed for drug smuggling in 2013She was sentenced to six years' after being caught with £1.5million cocaineThe drugs mule ...

All white on the night

There was glamour and glitz at the Fete Imperiale as thousands of guests gathered for a night under the starsPopular event celebrated its seventh consecutive ...

How British shares bounced back after historic Brexit vote

FTSE100 suffered one of biggest falls in history - losing more than £100bnBut by close on Friday seven per cent fall was narrowed to 2.7 ...

Is this the tacky airport restaurant where Brexit began over a cheap pizza slice? Fateful decision to hold vote was 'reached in Chicago O'Hare pizzeria' while David Cameron waited for flight

David Cameron and William Hague were in Chicago in 2012 for a meetingReturning from the Nato summit, both men ate pizza at Chicago O'HareThey agreed ...

As Starbucks is being sued, is this proof coffee shops DO rip us off?  

High Street coffee a day averages around £2.50 - nearly £17.50 a weekCoffees cost us £910 a year and more than £20,000 throughout our lifetimeEven ...