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The way we were

Why we are so fascinated by a 3000-year-old mummy’s health

Written by The Indian Express | Published: February 16, 2009 12:49 am

One of the primary motives of research is to answer a set of very simple questions: who we are,where we come from and how we have evolved. Inquiries into the past answer questions pertaining to the present. The first port of call has always been human evolution. Recent inquiry has left scientists confused; did we not interbreed with Neanderthals? Given that assumptions and speculations are always open to a margin of error and falsification in light of scientific evidence another channel remains open: discovery about the habits of those before us.

Chicago’s Oriental Institute in 1920 acquired an Egyptian mummy circa 800 BC. All that was known of her was her name and designation: Meresamum was a singer and priestess in the court of gods; lack of information on her led to disinterest,hence she was a minor distraction at the museum. Developments in science and technology then created the Phillips 256-slice Brilliance iCT scanner. Made for man,this could produce a full body scan in just two beats. And now,the relationship between man and machine has been taken a step further. The iCT scanner has provided in-depth information about the life of Meresamum; her instruments,tools,personal effects and her health. Meresamum now commands the centre-stage once again with the exhibit centred around her.

David Hume hit the nail on the head when it comes to human inquiry: “Beauty is no quality in things themselves. It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” Fascination with the Egyptians,Incas,Greeks and Persians is more than a gateway into times past; it is a timeless portal into the mind. Discovery will advance as long as there is a thirst for knowledge; it will remain constant because humans will always have the desire to think.

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