Monday, April 19, 2010

Mummy of Rameses II’s high priest revealed

Times Online

Two hundred years after the death of Rameses II, one of the greatest pharaohs of Egypt, his high priest Iufenamun decreed that his mummified body be moved to a secret location to keep his tomb safe from robbers.

Now the priest’s own coffin, snatched from its last resting place, is to be displayed in public for the first time since he died 3,000 years ago. Inside is Iufenamun’s mummy and a cast of his face.

These relics of one the world’s greatest civilizations have been uncovered among the collection of the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, as its £46 million refurbishment continues. For conservators and curators, their encounter with the priest has been not only a professional challenge but almost a supernatural experience as the ancient remains of Iufenamun began to take human form again.

Lynn McLean, head of textile and paper conservation at the National Museum of Scotland, said: “That was the only moment I felt slightly odd – when I saw his face.”

She had spent weeks stabilising the delicate linen tape wrapped round the priest’s body. Ms McLean, who usually deals with costume or clothes, said: “It feels different, handling a mummy. It’s not just an object, it’s a person. You have to treat him with respect.”

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