AllofUs helps the British Museum uncover the ancient lives of mummies

AllofUs has created the digital experience for the British Museum’s forthcoming Ancient lives: new discoveries show, which uses exhibition design by Nissen Richards Studios.

The CT scan of the mummy of an adult male (name unknown), showing his mummified remains.

Source: © Trustees of the British Museum

The CT scan of the mummy of an adult male (name unknown), showing his mummified remains.

The show, which opens next month, presents the stories of eight individuals’ lives in the Nile Valley over 4,000 years – from prehistoric Egypt to Christian Sudan. The physical mummies will be on display alongside supporting artefacts, such as jewellery.

Cartonnage of a priestess, adult, casing with a gilded face, named Tayesmutengebtiu, also called Tamut. Found in Thebes, 22nd Dynasty (c. 900 BC)

Source: © Trustees of the British Museum

Cartonnage of a priestess, adult, casing with a gilded face, named Tayesmutengebtiu, also called Tamut. Found in Thebes, 22nd Dynasty (c. 900 BC)

The 2D graphics were created by Northover Brown.

AllofUs was appointed last summer following a tender for the digital aspect of the exhibition. It says it was briefed to ‘create an engaging, innovative and respectful way of presenting the high definition scans alongside the mummies and communicating the information hidden within them.’

CT scan 3D visualisation of the mummified remains of Tayesmutengebtiu, also called Tamut, showing her body within the cartonnage.

Source: © Trustees of the British Museum

CT scan 3D visualisation of the mummified remains of Tayesmutengebtiu, also called Tamut, showing her body within the cartonnage.

Chris Mullany, creative technology director at AllofUs, says, ‘We wanted to create a more physical way to navigate through content. We kept coming back to the idea of quite a simple mechanism – the audience is quite varied, there’s going to be family groups so you have to cater for children and also people who know more about it’.

The consultancy worked with the exhibition curators to create digital interactives that unveil in more depth the high-definition scans of data taken from the mummies – including age, sex, state of health and objects buried with them, such as amulets. Visitors can view these using hand gestures that let them control the speed and direction with which the layers of the mummy are unwrapped.

A mummy undergoing a CT scan at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

Source: © Trustees of the British Museum

A mummy undergoing a CT scan at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

The scan images were created using three-dimensional computerised tomography (CT) reconstructions of the mummies which are analysed using anthropological and forensic techniques. These are made up from hundreds of CT scans completed in a number of different medical institutions, including a London hospital, combined to create a detailed reconstruction of the bodies and objects concealed within the wrappings. 

The exhibition runs from May 22 until Nov 30.

The temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, where Tayesmutengebtiu, also called Tamut, probably served as a priestess.

Source: © Vandenbeusch

The temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, where Tayesmutengebtiu, also called Tamut, probably served as a priestess.

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