For more than 50 years a tiny Egyptian mummy, no bigger than a hand, has sat in storage in the WA Museum — an ancient tightly wrapped mystery whose contents would remain sealed for ever by the mottled brown linen wound around it.
But thanks to modern technology some of the secrets of Perth’s “cat mummy” have finally been unravelled, to reveal what appears to be an elaborate 90-year-old scam.
Up until 30 years ago WA Museum staff believed they had a 2500-year-old mummified cat, donated by Perth man Reginald Wadham in 1930, and it was displayed as a sacred artefact like the type the ancient Egyptians used to offer up to the goddess of fertility, Bastet. Read more.
Conspirators murdered Egyptian King Ramesses III by slitting his throat, experts now believe, based on a new forensic analysis.
The first CT scans to examine the king’s mummy reveal a cut to the neck deep enough to be fatal.
The secret has been hidden for centuries by the bandages covering the mummy’s throat that could not be removed for preservation’s sake.
The work may end at least one of the controversies surrounding his death.
Precisely how he died has been hotly debated by historians.
Ancient documents including the Judicial Papyrus of Turin say that in 1155BC members of his harem attempted to kill him as part of a palace coup.
But it is less clear whether the assassination was successful. Some say it was, while other accounts at the time imply the second Pharaoh of the 20th dynasty survived the attack, at least for a short while. Read more.
A brain-removal tool used by ancient Egyptian embalmers has been discovered lodged in the skull of a female mummy that dates back around 2,400 years.
Removal of the brain was an Egyptian mummification procedure that became popular around 3,500 years ago and remained in use in later periods.
Identifying the ancient tools embalmers used for brain removal is difficult, and researchers note this is only the second time that such a tool has been reported within a mummy’s skull.
Located between the left parietal bone and the back of the skull, which had been filled with resin, the object was discovered in 2008 through a series of CT scans. Researchers then inserted an endoscope (a thin tube often used for noninvasive medical procedures) into the mummy to get a closer look and ultimately detach it from resin to which it had gotten stuck. Read more.
Bolivia has returned a 700-year-old mummy to Peru, from where it was stolen by antiquities traffickers.
The mummy of a child of about two years of age is only 30cm (12in) tall and sits wrapped in blankets.
Bolivian police seized it two years ago from a woman who was going to ship it to France.
Experts determined it was an original but found that one of its legs had been added later presumably by the smugglers who wanted to raise its value.
Experts have not been able to determine the sex of the mummy but archaeologists think it came from a pre-Inca culture of coastal Peru.
Bolivian Culture Minister Pablo Groux handed the mummy to his Peruvian counterpart Luis Peirano at a ceremony at the Peruvian Foreign Ministry in Lima. Read more.
PHILADELPHIA – The Penn Museum is unwrapping the mystery of mummy conservation, giving the public an unusual close-up of researchers’ efforts to preserve relics from ancient Egypt.
Human and animal mummies, as well as an intricately inscribed coffin, are among the items undergoing treatment and repair at the Philadelphia institution’s newly installed Artifact Lab.
Housed in a special gallery, the glass-enclosed workspace lets visitors share in “the thrill of discovery,” museum director Julian Siggers said.
“It demonstrates to you the work that’s actually being done behind the walls of these galleries,” Siggers said.
Visitors can watch staff members use microscopes, brushes and other tools of the trade to inspect, study and preserve items including the mummy of a 5-year-old girl, several human heads, a colorful but damaged sarcophagus, and a painting from a tomb wall. Read more.
Around 2,100 years ago, at a time when Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of Greek kings, a young wealthy man from Thebes was nearing the end of his life.
Rather than age, he may have succumbed to a sinus infection caused by a mouthful of cavities and other tooth ailments, according to new research on the man’s odd dental filling.
Recently published CT scans of his mummified body allowed researchers to reconstruct details of his final days.
The man, whose name is unknown, was in his 20s or early 30s, and his teeth were in horrible shape.
He had “numerous” abscesses and cavities, conditions that appear to have resulted, at some point, in a sinus infection, something potentially deadly, the study researchers said. Read more.
Found high in the Andes mountains, the 500-year-old ancient mummy remains of a young girl show evidence of a serious lung infection before she died. The Inca mummy, known as “The Maiden”, was first recovered from a site located at 22,000 feet above sea level in 1999.
Now, a research team led by Angelique Corthals of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, used a new technique called proteomics, which focuses on protein rather than DNA remains, and profiled the immune system response found in samples taken from 500 year-old Andean Inca mummies. They did this by swabbing the lips of two mummies and compared the proteins they found to large databases of the human genome.
They found that the protein profile from the “Maiden” was similar to that of patients who suffered from chronic respiratory infection. The related DNA analysis also showed the presence of Mycobacterium, which is considered responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and tuberculosis. Read more.
A mummified child in Korea whose organs were relatively well preserved has produced the oldest full viral genome description. A liver biopsy of the mummy revealed a unique hepatitis B virus (HBV) known as a genotype C2 sequence, which is said to be common in Southeast Asia.
The first discovery of hepatitis in a Korean mummy came in 2007. The new work provided more detailed analysis.
The research, announced today, was detailed in the May 21 edition of the scientific journal Hepatology.
Carbon 14 tests of the clothing of the mummy suggests that the boy lived around the 16th century during the Korean Joseon Dynasty. The viral DNA sequences recovered from the liver biopsy enabled the scientists to map the entire ancient hepatitis B viral genome. Read more.