Pathologist Frank Rühli scaled back his medical practice in 2005 to pursue an obsession with mummies. Since then he has used advanced imaging to perform autopsies on the long-dead and has played a key role in investigating the mysterious deaths of famous mummies, from King Tut to Ötzi the Iceman. Rühli currently directs the Swiss Mummy Project and works at the Institute of Anatomy at University Hospital Zurich.
Why examine patients who have been dead for thousands of years?
I look at skeletons and mummies and try to find special cases of illness. It’s part of the desire to know more about diseases, including how and when they evolved.
When did you know you wanted to study ancient mummification?
Ever since I was 6 years old, I have been infatuated with ancient Egyptian culture. I even wrote my M.D. thesis on an Egyptian mummy. In 2005 the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities invited me to Cairo to analyze the CT scans of King Tut.
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