PITTSFIELD, Mass.—It’s not every day the Berkshire Museum’s mummy, Pahat, gets his coffin opened up to be studied.
“It’s completely surreal,” Philip Williams said, one of the researchers at the museum on Monday. “I grew up in Pittsfield, I grew up seeing Pahat in the museum, so being able to work with it, it’s really interesting to me.”
Williams, a rising junior at Castleton University in Vermont, spent Monday morning doing a 3D scan of the over 2,000-year-old mummy, combing over every inch with a handheld 3D scanner.
“What the scanner is doing is it’s taking about 40 to 60 photos per minute,” Williams said. “And it shoots out a laser which it uses to collect data back to get distance, and then it combines that distance with the photo to kinds of place all these images across each other.”
This was the first time the coffin has been opened in more than a decade. Collections experience manager Jason Vivori said they’ve been able to learn a lot about Pahat, who was a high-ranking priest, thanks to lots of research over the years.
“Three different Egyptologists have looked at the text on the coffin lid and the coffin in general,” Vivori said. “He’s had three sets of CAT scans, and a set of x-rays, so he has been studied pretty heavily.”
Monday’s scan will generate a 3D digital model of Pahat, which will be made available on the museum’s website for educators and researchers to access freely.
“It’s really hard for me to get everything opened up and just take pictures and have them be good,” Vivori said. “So to be able to just direct them to the website where we’ll have this information available and they can just study it themselves and manipulate the actual scan will be really cool and I’m sure great for them as well.”