CSI: Egypt

In horror movies mummies give a good scare because of their relentless, shambolic gait. And also the whole dead-but-moving thing — it really creeps people out, right? But those are movie mummies — in real life, as you can see from that photo, mummies generate an empathetic fear. You can see that little guy's features so clearly that it gives you pause. He's almost familiar-looking, like any number of kids you see in your neighborhood. The realization that this tiny bundle once laughed and shouted and wiped a runny nose is driven home by that peaceful but desiccated countenance.

But who is that wee mummy? Donated to the Saint Louis Science Center in 1985 by a private collector, the Child Mummy has been understandably mum (apologies) about his early years. But an international team of medical scientists and mummy experts have devoted quite a bit of time and effort to unwrapping (really, very sorry about this) all of the li'l fella's secrets. The team's findings are the basis for a new exhibit at the Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4400 or www.slsc.org). As of press time, the official findings were still secret — but when the exhibit opens on Friday, March 16, all of the DNA testing, radiocarbon dating and CT scans will have been compiled into an informative and fascinating video display that offers some answers. Part of the display is a 3-D rendering of the Child Mummy, made possible by compositing more than 1,000 high-resolution CT scans, which reveals what he looks like under the wrappings. The exhibit serves as a nice adjunct to the new OMNIMAX film, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, which also opens on Friday. The Child Mummy display is located near the theater; tickets for the film are $7 to $8, but you can see the exhibit for free.
Starts: March 16. Daily, 2007