Saturday, November 15, 2008

Borrowers heal ancient Egyptian coffin smashed in 1969 protest

A rare 2,500-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus shattered in a student protest almost four decades ago is expected to be a whole, new artifact when it returns to its home in Montreal after a sojourn in Gatineau.

The elaborately-painted Hetep-Bastet coffin and the mummy inside are on loan to the Museum of Civilization, which plans to hand the ancient wooden coffin back to its owner, the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), in far better condition than when it left.

Over the past three months, conservators at the museum have been painstakingly piecing together a few large pieces and hundreds of tiny fragments broken from the lid and the back of the coffin during a violent student protest in 1969 at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, which received the coffin as a gift from the Cairo Museum in 1927.

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