Swiss Mummy Project

Summary of Research

The aim of the Swiss Mummy Project (SMP) is to investigate ancient human mummies of multiple cultural and geographical backgrounds with state-of-the-art scientific methods. This allows gaining insight into the evolution of disease but also socio-cultural aspects. Experimental studies are undertaken to better understand and interpret alterations of human and animal soft tissue morphology in the course of natural and anthropogenic mummification processes. Methods used by members of the SMP are most diverse and include diagnostic radiology, histology, and molecular techniques. Such interdisciplinary studies are carried out with well-documented individual cases as well as in the form of extensive epidemiological investigations of various mummies worldwide. A particular focus is laid on using sustainable, ethical approaches.

Project Collaboration

  • Diagnostic Imaging (CT, MRI) at the Institute of Forensic Medicine, UZH

  • Histology at the Institute of Diagnostic Pathology, University Hospital Zurich

  • Radiocarbon Dating at the Institute of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, ETHZ

  • Micro-CT and Breast-CT, Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital of Zurich

  • Radiologie Balgrist

    Prof. B. Blümich, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen

  • Prof. M. Bock, Department of Radiology, University Hospital, Freiburg im Breisgau

  • Prof. S. Ikram, American University, Cairo

  • PD A. Zink, Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, EURAC, Bozen

  • Dr. Dario Piombino-Mascali, Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Palermo, Italy

Selected Published Articles

  • Habicht ME, Bianucci R, Buckley SA, Fletcher J, Bouwman AS, Öhrström LM, Seiler R, Galassi FM, Hajdas I, Vassilika E, Böni T, Henneberg M, Rühli FJ. Queen Nefertari, the Royal Spouse of Pharaoh Ramses II: A Multidisciplinary Investigation of the Mummified Remains Found in Her Tomb (QV66). PLoS One 2016 Nov 30; 11(11): e0166571.

  • Rühli F, Ikram S, Bickel S. New Ancient Egyptian Human Mummies from the Valley of the Kings, Luxor: Anthropological, Radiological and Egyptological investigations. Biomed Res Int 2015; 2015: 530362.

  • Habicht, Michael E; Bouwman Abigail S; Rühli, Frank J (2016). Identifications of Ancient Egyptian Royal Mummies from the 18th Dynasty Reconsidered. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 159, 216-231.

  • Öhrström, Lena M; Seiler, Roger; Böni, Thomas; Aali, Abolfazl; Stöllner, Thomas; Rühli, Frank J (2015). Radiological findings in an ancient Iranian salt mummy (Chehrābād ca. 410-350 BC). Skeletal Radiology, 44(6):811-821.

  • Rühli F (2014): Swiss Mummy Project. In: Cardin M (ed): Mummies around the World: An Encyclopedia of Mummies in History, Religion and Popular Culture. USA: 395-397.