The ASEMI project, led by the University of Malta in partnership with the ESRF, aims to develop and use artificial intelligence techniques for the automatic segmentation of volumetric microtomography images, such as images of Egyptian mummies. Microtomography is an X-ray imaging technique based on the same principle as the medical scanner. This technology is able to provide 3D images to visualise the structure of materials in a non-invasive and non-destructive way, with applications in cultural heritage, materials research, life sciences, biomedical research and paleontology, where the ESRF has developed unique expertise.

Recently, two of the microtomography beamlines at the ESRF (ID19 and BM05) have been used for applications in Egyptology, through the investigation of animal mummies. In this application, trained specialists manually segment the volume into textiles, organic tissues, balm resin, ceramics and bones. Depending on the complexity and size of the dataset, this process is very time consuming, typically taking several weeks for a small animal mummy. In the near future, thanks to the construction of the new beamline BM18, the same process is expected to be applied to human mummies, which would take considerably longer.

The main objective of this work is to develop and use artificial intelligence techniques to automatically perform this laborious process. Following the principles of “Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World”, the developed algorithms, data sets, and results will be made available to the general public. This project has received funding from the ATTRACT project funded by the EC under Grant Agreement 777222.