2300-Year-Old Mummy is Ready to Play

For a guy who’s been dead for more than two millennia, Neswaiu is pretty good at interacting with people.

That’s because the innovative minds at Interactive Institute Swedish ICT – an experimental IT & design research institute that creates groundbreaking user experiences – have created a 3D digital copy of this ancient Egyptian mummy that users can unwrap and explore using an interactive touch table.


The interactive exhibit will be a key element of the new permanent Egyptian exhibition at The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, which is making its collection of mummies available in digital form for the first time.

The Institute used a number of groundbreaking software technologies – including Autodesk ReCap reality capture software – to digitize Neswaiu. ReCap took data from CT scanning – including the intricate surfaces, colors and textures of the mummy and the sarcophagus – and processed it into a textured and detailed surface mesh.

The result is a complete 3D model that allows users to explore the mummy inside and out.

Museum visitors can use simple multi-touch gestures to explore the mummy as a whole or to zoom in and see fine details, such as the carving marks on the sarcophagus. The more intrepid viewer can remove the outer casings, unwrap the mummy, and peel off layers of the body to reveal the innermost anatomical elements.

Mummy sections

As the exhibit demonstrates, 3D digitization, modeling and interactive visualization create exciting opportunities for museums to use technology to preserve collections, enhance research and education efforts, and create new visitor experiences.

Visitors will both be able to explore a digital reproduction of the mummy Neswaiu and hold a 3D printed copy of a golden amulet with their own hands.

Golden eagle

“Our new exhibition focuses on the human aspect, while also offering new perspectives on Egypt,” explains Sofia Häggman, Director of Medelhavsmuseet. “3D digitization technology enables us to describe the health and fate of individuals, as well as ancient Egyptians’ beliefs about the afterlife.”

Amulets played an important part in ancient Egyptian religion. They were believed to transfer magical properties to the wearer, and were usually placed on specific areas of the body to protect the deceased. In the case of Neswaiu, one of the amulets is in the shape of a falcon. The falcon was associated with the god Horus who was worshipped at the time Neswaiu lived. By using a combination of modern 3D scanning and printing technology with traditional metal casting, it has been possible to recreate the amulet without disturbing the mummy, and once again let the amulet take physical form.

More details on the collaborators involved in this project can be found on the Institute’s project web page, and additional images of Neswaiu’s journey from analog to digital can be seen on Flickr.