Stabbed in the back: The 5,500 year old mummy murder mystery unearthed by a virtual autopsy at the British Museum
- 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 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
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
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
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
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
Amanda Holden at the centre of Twitter backlash as she sends daughter to school dressed as Pretty Woman prostitute for fancy dress day
A parenting group has slammed TV star Amanda Holden for posting a picture of her nine-year-old daughter 'dressed as a prostitute' online.The Britain's Got Talent ... Full story
Grandmother filmed confronting militants and branding them 'devils' before quoting verses in the Koran that forbid slaughter
An incredible video has emerged showing the moment an elderly woman bravely confronted two Islamic State militants, telling them their terror group is cursed and ... Full story
Jobseeker shocked to be sent rudest rejection email ever calling him an 'old, aesthetically challenged professional pr*** with no teeth'
A jobseeker was shocked after he was branded as 'irritating', 'rude' and 'obnoxious' in a cutting email accidentally sent to him by a prospective employer.James ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
What a washout! Heavy rain forces play to be suspended in The Open at St Andrews after lightning and 50mph winds hit Britain... and there's more on the way
Conditions halt play before first group had even finished first hole on second day of championship in FifeDownpour saw torrent of water gushing down ...
It happened on the A24 at Findon, West Sussex, at about 8.30pm, last nightSuspect got out of car in front and knifed driver in other ...
Furious holiday goers complained of long queues at Heathrow's Terminal 2Passengers claimed 'chaos' due to self-service machines running out of paperHappened as 3,000 people descended on ...
Son of NHS doctor from Middlesbrough helped to recruit up to 18 fellow medical students to join Isis
Mohammed Fakhri Al-Khabass' father ran a GP practice on Teesside25-year-old grew up in Middlesbrough but went to university in SudanHe then radicalised other ...
Pictured: The tattered party dress, dirty shorts and ripped t-shirt found next to a child's body and a battered suitcase by the side of a road
Police release images of suitcase and clothes found with dead childA girl's black dress, undergarments, and a girl's shoe were picturedGender of the child still ...
Shocking footage shows Russian-backed rebels rifle through belongingsThey initially believed they had shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet Donetsk People's Republic and Kremlin have always denied responsibility 298 passengers and crew ...
Mayor says children must be kept inside between 2pm and 5pm and tells town to be quiet as it becomes the first in Spain to have an official afternoon nap time
Joan Faus Vitoria, mayor of Ador in Valencia, has brought in official siestasFor three hours every day, locals are able to return home and go to ...
Arnold Holle urged Germans not to send children to UK public schoolsInvestment banker spent 'seven-figure' sending all four of his childrenBut said pupils learn same ...
Chief Inspector Paul Cahill allegedly found slumped over wheel of his carOfficers searching vehicle found MDMA, mephedrone and controlled sedativeCahill was on way to court to ...
Prince Harry is at front line of a war against the illegal trade in rhino horn Royal is raising awareness of a deaths of thousands of ...