Hawass, founder of the Egyptian Mummy Project, told Al-Fanar Media that the use of radiology “was one of the most important means of project success.”
The techniques that he and Saleem use help to “preserve the mummies during the examination and study process,” he said. “They helped us see what we wanted to examine in the mummies’ body, without untangling their wrappings.”
A Rare Specialisation
Saleem said specialists in paleoradiology around the world are “extremely scarce” and the main problem facing Egypt is the lack of a precise specialisation in this field. Support was needed “from archaeological institutions and associations to encourage young researchers to join the specialty, and to provide supported educational programs,” she added.
Saleem is currently using portable digital radiography devices to examine mummies at excavation sites and remote places. This technology is an advanced form of X-ray examination which produces a digital image on a computer for immediate analysis.
Zeinab Hashesh, a professor of Egyptology at Beni Suef University, told Al-Fanar Media that Saleem, as the first Egyptian woman to specialise in paleoradiology, was qualified to establish a school that could train dozens of scholars in this specialty.
Hashesh, who works at the American Research Center in Egypt, said that “paleoradiology has become an indispensable tool for examining, diagnosing and studying mummies, the way a doctor cannot dispense with X-rays before prescribing treatment for a patient.”
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Saleem has at times had to work tens of meters underground and spend long hours in poorly ventilated burial sites at various temperatures.
She says her passion for her work helped her to overcome such difficulties and accomplish tasks on site just like her male colleagues. While she aspires to continue her work using the latest technologies, her ambition is to train a new generation of scholars specialised in this field and provide them with scientific tools to protect Egypt’s antiquities.