The aim of the Swiss Mummy Project (SMP) – a research project based at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM), University of Zurich – is to investigate ancient human mummies of multiple cultural and geographical backgrounds with state-of-the-art scientific methods. This allows gaining insights into the evolution of disease, human variation but also socio-cultural aspects. The SMP started in the mid-1990’s with a particular focus on mummies from Swiss collections but has now become an international collaborative project with involvements eg in the determination of the cause of death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun; The Neolithic Iceman (“Oetzi”) or a roman-greek mummy.
The main aim is to combine various scientific perspectives as part of such transdisciplinary research projects. Furthermore, experimental studies are undertaken to learn more about the process of natural and artificial mummification in human tissue. Methods used by members of the SMP are most diverse and include diagnostic radiology, histology, and molecular techniques. A particular focus is laid on using sustainable, ethical approaches to work with these precious human remains (Code of ethics).
The SMP also organised the public mummy exhibition „Mummies: Men, Medicine, Magic“ at the University of Zurich-Irchel in 2011/12. The work of the Swiss Mummy Project has been covered in the media (TV, Radio, printed press). The research has been presented at multiple conferences worldwide and is part of scientific publications in specialised journals. The Swiss Mummy project is primarily funded by generous third-party funding (grants, donations). Basic support is thankfully provided by the University of Zurich. For details see List of Funding Partners.