King Tut’s Mummy Cloned using 3D Printing Technology

Tutankhamun’s mummy is being safely kept in KV62 in the Valley of the Kings. It’s hard to imagine his body would ever leave Egypt,  yet thousands of visitors to the touring King Tut exhibition at New York are being offered the chance to see an exact replica of the boy-king’s mummy based on  CT scans of him. The process of creating the replica – the subject of this short video – is highly impressive, and has a nice sci-fi touch to it. Personally I can’t wait to see this done to Motoko Kusanagi* – but in the meantime see how they cloned Tut (and if they’ve included the willy).

A short answer to ‘how did they do this?’ is 3D printing. The longer answer is that the company behind the replica mummy used data from CT scans on Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old mummy to create a 3D model with the same specifications as the original, a virtual replica. Then it was time to print King Tut. The 3D printer used (Belgian Materialise‘s Mammoth Stereolithography machine) can print objects up to two metres long, and is more used for printing car bumpers than ancient Egyptian mummies.

3D Printed Replica of the Mummy of Tutankhamun by iMaterialise

The material used is called ‘photopolymer resin’, which is a liquid at the start of the process.  A UV laser is then used to trace the shape of the model layer by layer, ‘glueing’ each one to the layer below. Each time a layer is finished, it is re-coated with liquid resin to create the next layer.  When the 3D model of Tutankhamun is completed, it is removed from the tank of photopolymer (very Ghost in the Shell-like), cleaned up and handed over to Gary Staab, natural history and prehistoric life modeller.

Gary then adds detail, colour and texture to give the mummy a more realistic feel. As you can see, Gary has done an excellent job. I would dare to wager MacMummy over it that some people did not even realise they were looking at a replica! But there’s one missing part, or member, the team forgot…

I’m speechless to describe the degree of awesomeness of this 3D printed King Tut mummy, which easily wins a nomination for ‘best replica ever’. Meral, can I have one? It’s my birthday soon! Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy our Virtual King Tut treasures and continue playing with King Tut AR. (Yes, we do have that running, after being inspired by seeing Stonehenge AR.)

*Ghost in the Shell, opening scene of the first Anime film. You’re just pretending you don’t know her, right?