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Researchers from Cairo University in Egypt have teamed up with scientists at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS) to study 32 mummified bone samples and 2 soil samples using X-ray and infrared light. The ALS is being used to study the samples' properties, including their microscopic chemistry and structure. The bone samples come from two sites: a burial ground at Saqqara, in northern Egypt, and the city of Aswan, in the south. The remains are from mummies in four different dynasties in Egyptian history: the Middle Kingdom, Second Intermediate Period, Late Period, and Greco-Roman. Researchers have previously detected lead and aluminum in the bones which they believe comes from the environment of ancient Egypt. It is possible that the aluminum came from the potassium alum compound they added to their drinking water to reduce its cloudiness. The lead may have come from the substance they used to polish pottery. The team is hopeful that these tests will help determine whether these elements got into the bones from the environment in which the ancient Egyptians lived, or from the surrounding soil.





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