Sunday, July 11, 2010

Strange bones in Colchester mummy

The Independent, UK (Sean Williams)

The skull of an ancient Egyptian mummy in Colchester is packed with 'strange bones', a CT-scan has revealed. The scan on 2,500-year-old Lady Ta-Hathor yesterday also revealed an odd bundle between her thighs, thought to be the remains of her organs.

Full results from the scan, made ahead of Ta-Hathor's display at Ipswich Museum's new Egyptian Gallery, are expected only after an assessment by a team in Manchester. Yet it immediately showed she was healthy with no bone defects, and had died of natural causes aged in her mid-twenties - not far off the era's life expectancy of 30. Ta-Hathor's heart had been placed back in her body, a vital step on her journey to the afterlife.

Yet the mysterious bones inside Ta-Hathor's skull will be of most interest to experts including Caroline McDonald, curator of archaeology at Colchester and Ipswich Museums. "It appears as if the skull cavity has been packed with linen," says McDonald. "There are some strange bone fragments in the skull that we can’t currently account for and we hope experts will be able to reveal this particular secret."

Essex County Standard

A COLCHESTER hospital admitted its oldest patient, after it volunteered to scan a 2,500-year-old mummy.

Lady Ta-Hathor, whose name was written in hieroglyphics on her sarcophagus, is tightly wrapped in layers of bandages.

She was X-rayed in 1967, but with the advances technology has made in the past 40 years, staff at the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service were keen to carry out further tests to reveal her hidden secrets.

The Oaks Hospital agreed to allow the museum service to put the mummy through its CT scanner free of charge.

Caroline McDonald, curator of archaeology at Ipswich Museum, explained: “We were looking to see if what we knew about mummification had happened with Lady Ta-Hathor.

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