May 8, 2008 - Carestream Health donated a CR system that enables The Field Museum in Chicago, for the first time, to capture, archive and share digital X-ray images of over one million priceless specimens and artifacts in its Anthropology collection.
The museum is also using a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) from the company for the management, viewing and storage of the growing collection of digital images managed by the museum’s staff.
For several decades, The Field Museum used X-ray film to capture images of its unique collections. The CR system has already led to new discoveries. A digital image of the pelvis of the same Egyptian mummy revealed that the person was most likely a woman between 30 and 40 years old. Additionally, an image of a Peruvian “false head” (falsa cabeza) revealed the surprising presence of shells inside the artifact.
Anthropology Collections Manager Chris Philip identified shells inside the stuffing of the mask. The clarity of the image allowed Invertebrates Collections Manager Jochen Gerber to specify two complete shells as Mesodesma donacium, an edible marine clam inhabiting the waters off the west coast of South America. This may help to answer the tantalizing question of why this “false head” was packed with shells. The shells appear to be a deliberate addition to the filling of the mask, possibly a food offering, but their meaning is unclear since no other specimens with added shells are known.
Images of an ancient Egyptian mummy demonstrate how digital images are superior to film images. Recently captured digital images have revealed a previously unknown erosion of the parietal lobes in the mummy’s skull. This could indicate the presence of parasites, anemia or malnourishment shortly before death. Similarly, curators will be looking for signs of spinal cord deterioration in other specimens, which could be a sign of tuberculosis.
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