Ancient mummy box
New technique reads hidden text on ancient mummy boxes Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

After years of struggle, historians finally have a way of knowing more about ancient Egyptians – a novel scanning technique that can read secret writings on ancient mummy boxes and that too without destroying the ancient relics.

Preserved for thousands of years, ancient mummies are delicate pieces of Egyptian history that could reveal a lot about the people who lived at that time.

We already know about the rich and royal Egyptians, thanks to techniques that peek inside mummies and read hieroglyphics on tomb walls, but not much is known about the everyday lives of ancient Egyptians.

Well, not anymore. A group of researchers from University College London have developed a technique to read the text written on ancient mummy boxes made from scraps of papyrus, according to the BBC. The waste material from the past could include information about individual people and their lives.

Usually, the text written on the boxes remains obscured due to the paste and plaster that hold the boxes together. However, the latest tech scans the whole thing with different kinds of lights, making the ink glow and revealing the hidden text.

More importantly, the method is also damage-free. Until now, the only way to read the writings on the priceless boxes was to destroy them.

"I'm really horrified when we see these precious objects being destroyed to get to the text. It's a crime," Egyptologist Kathryn Piquette told the BBC.

"They are finite resources and we now have a technology to both preserve those beautiful objects and also look inside them to understand the way Egyptians lived through their documentary evidence - and the things they wrote down and the things that were important to them."

There is no word on widespread adoption of the tech but researchers have already started bringing it into use. They have used the technique to find hidden text on the footplate of a mummy box kept at a museum in Kent. The writing was "Irethorru" which means "the eye of Horus is against my enemies" in English.