Monday, April 23, 2012

Missing fragments of papyrus found in Australia

ABC News

With Video

Missing fragments from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead have been uncovered deep in the stores of the Queensland Museum.

The manuscript belonged to a high-ranking Egyptian official who lived in 1420 BC.  It was believed to contain magical spells to guide the dead to the afterlife.

Parts of the manuscript were discovered in the late 19th Century, but archaeologists have never found it all.

World-renowned Egyptologist Dr John Taylor was viewing the museum's Egyptian collection when a name on a papyrus fragment caught his eye.

Dr Taylor is the curator of the British Museum's mummy collection. The British Museum currently has a mummy exhibition on display at the Queensland Museum.

He was taken to the museum's storeroom to see more and says what came next is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.

The Australian (Jared Owens)

WHEN visiting British Museum curator John Taylor asked to inspect Queensland Museum's collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, he did not expect to stumble upon a long-lost section of the burial scroll of one of the civilisation's greatest builders.

The world-renowned Egyptologist, in Brisbane for the opening this week of a touring exhibition of mummies from his museum, was poring over a display case of antiquities when his eye was drawn to a shred of papyrus bearing the distinctive hieroglyphs of Amenhotep, a chief builder in the 15th century BC, whose burial scroll, known as a "Book of the Dead", was scattered across the globe in the 1890s.

Intrigued by the fragment, donated in 1913 by an unknown woman, Dr Taylor asked whether there were any more pieces in the museum's dungeons.

"When I was brought into the conservation lab to see them, after a very short period of time it became apparent that we did indeed have many fragments of the Book of the Dead of this extremely important man," Dr Taylor said yesterday.
Rec Coverage 28 Day pass

"This is not the papyrus of just anybody - this is one of the top officials in Egypt at the peak of Egyptian prosperity."

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