The Perth Mummy Investigation

Last night, a human mummy and sarcophagus from the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland, arrived at Manchester for a scientific investigation enabling us to see within the bandages using non-invasive techniques for the first time since the body was mummified. Believed to be around 3000 years old, the sarcophagus suggests that the individual is a woman.

The mummy was packaged for transportation by Constantine’s removal specialists and arrived at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital around 4pm yesterday. The investigation comprised a series of digital X-rays of both the mummy and the sarcophagus which were then ‘stitched together’ using advanced computer processing techniques. A full-body CT scan was performed which was able to provide further information on the state of preservation of the body and the construction techniques used in the manufacture of the sarcophagus. Over 6000 individual CT images were gathered so there is a great deal of work to be done before we can answer some of the questions regarding this individual. We are indebted to Prof. Judith Adams, Clinical Radiologist, for her assistance with organising this investigation, and to Susan Crimmins and Andrea Brammer, radiographers at the Children’s Hospital, for their valuable contribution, not only with this mummy, but in the study of many others, both human and animal, over the years.

Dr. Campbell Price, Curator of Ancient Egypt and the Sudan at the Manchester Museum, and Anna Garnett, Trainee Curator, were on hand to offer their expertise regarding aspects of the coffin decoration, hieroglyphic inscriptions and mummification style. Sam Sportun, Senior Conservator at Manchester Museum, was also present and was able to assess the current state of preservation and to offer some practical advice to Mark Hall, Curator from Perth, as to how the mummy can be conserved and potentially displayed in the future.

We look forward to analysing the radiographic data over the coming weeks and we will release information regarding both the mummy and the sarcophagus when it is available. Hopefully we will be able to deduce the name of the individual and that of her family, information relating to her life and death, and possibly also establish where the artefact originated from and when.

The story continues!

Link to the media coverage by BBC Scotland


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