Assess Condition of the Remains or Artifact

Initially, conventional radiographs can help researchers determine the fragility and integrity of the remains or artifacts under investigation. The initial radiographs may help determine if a mummy or artifact is safe to move. The radiographic information collected to address this initial objective is best carried out at the exact location of the study subjects. The location may be a tomb, a cave, a remote research facility, or a museum. In each case, a radiographic examination reveals information that can be used to direct further study activities. These activities include those that can be conducted on-site and suggest studies using advanced imaging. The radiographs may also indicate the direction for possible conservation measures.

One example is that of an on-site field examination of the mummies of Urbania, Italy, at the Church of the Brotherhood of the Good Death (Mama Mia Mummies 2003). These accidental mummies are on display behind the main portion of the church. The mummies were displayed in an upright position and were held in place by fragile wires. The initial conventional radiographs, conducted with the mummies in place, demonstrated that the remains were too fragile to be moved and severely limited future imaging research (Figure 2.68).

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