Sunday, November 21, 2010

Old Kingdom mummy to go on view at Carlos Museum

Access Atlanta (Howard Pousner)

With photo.

A rarely displayed Egyptian mummy, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, will be the focus of an exhibit next year at Emory University, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

The mummy, which dates to 2300 B.C. and was purchased by Emory theology professor William A. Shelton during an excavation at the sacred site of Abydos in 1920, will be featured in "Life and Death in the Pyramid Age: The Emory Old Kingdom Mummy." The exhibit will open Sept. 10 at the Michael Carlos Museum.

One of only a half-dozen mummies known to exist from the Old Kingdom (roughly between 2600 B.C. and 2100 B.C.), one of the earliest periods of Egyptian mummification practices, the male mummy is currently undergoing conservation.

The announcement follows recent news that the Metropolitan Museum of Art's will return ancient objects to Egypt attributed to King Tut's tomb.

While mummies have fascinated museum-goers for decades, little is known about the evolution of the process of mummification due to the rarity of early examples. The conservation team is being led by Carlos Museum conservator Renee Stein. Mummification experts including Salima Ikram of American University in Cairo and Bob Brier of New York's Long Island University, along with Emory anthropologist George Armelagos, are examining the mummy for insights into techniques as well as what the remains reveal about the individual. Various labs will study the mummy's linen wrappings, the body's salts and resins, tissue samples and wood from the coffin.

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