Nov. 20 - A virtual post-mortem conducted using a revolutionary autopsy table, has revealed that Gebelein Man, one of the world's most famous mummies, was stabbed to death 5,500 years ago. Jim Drury reports.
Gebelein Man died 5,500 years ago and his body has been on display in the British Museum for a century. But experts always believed he'd died of natural causes.....until now. A virtual autopsy table, designed originally to support post-mortem forensic work, reveals that Gebelein Man.....was murdered. UPSOT: BRITISH MUSEUM CURATOR DANIEL ANTOINE SAYING: "By removing the different layers we can clearly see how his shoulder blade has been damaged and there's been a single stab wound that's penetrated." Museum curator Brian Antoine is inviting visitors to examine the evidence themselves. UPSOT: "You can see on the surface of his body there is a small cut but also his shoulder blade is irregular." Developed in Sweden the Virtual Autopsy Table re-creates cadavers by using a combination of graphics and real CT scans. By exposing Gebelein Man's internal organs, while enlarging and rotating individual areas, clear evidence of his brutal death has emerged. SOUNDBITE (English) BRITISH MUSEUM CURATOR OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, DANIEL ANTOINE, SAYING: "The underlying rib below the scapula has also been shattered into fragments and all this points out to us a single blow to the back. It looked like he was stabbed in the back over 5,000 years ago." The absence of any defensive wounds suggest it was a surprise attack on a man in the physical prime of his life. SOUNDBITE (English) BRITISH MUSEUM CURATOR OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY, DANIEL ANTOINE, SAYING: "We've been able to discover that he was actually a young man when he died, probably between the ages of 18 and 21, and he was probably also a strong young man. His mummified tissue reveals a lot of muscle but his bones, or the shape of his bones, also suggest that he was quite strong." Found in a shallow grave in Upper Egypt in 1896, Gebelien Man had been dried and mummified by the hot sand. He'd been buried in the foetal position as was customary in ancient Egypt. Five and a half thousand years later, he is still the object of fascination for museum visitors and now, thanks to the virtual autopsy table, his story is likely to attract a new army of fans.