Mummified singer is star of new British Museum exhibition

Wed Apr 9, 2014 12:57pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - A singer is the star of the show in a new exhibition of mummies at the British Museum for which modern medical scanners have been used to examine eight bodies and find out what they looked like, how they lived and how they died.

The technology has helped the researchers to look through bandages and inside mummy cases that have never been opened, take images of amulets and statues stored with the body, and reproduce those objects for display at the exhibition "Ancient lives, new discoveries" which opens on May 22.

"We're getting much greater precision," said John Taylor, assistant keeper of the museum's Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, from which the eight mummies forming the exhibition were taken.

"It used to be very difficult to work out the age of death within less than 20 or 30 years and now we are able to pinpoint it very precisely to within a couple of years." he told a news conference on Wednesday.

One mummy whose casket had never been opened is that of a female named Tamut who lived in Thebes at about 900 BC. Inscriptions on the casket say she was a "chantress", or singer, for the god Amun, probably at the Temple of Karnak.

With the aid of 3D imagery the museum has been able to make a model of a small falcon that was sealed inside the casket along with the body. It will be displayed along with other objects and scanned images of her mummified body that the museum hopes will allow visitors for the first time to feel like they are "meeting" a person who lived thousands of years ago.

"I personally think Tamut is the star of the show, she has such a wonderful array of objects inside her case, we have the inscriptions saying all about her life, we have her name, what she really did," Taylor said.

"We can show objects and say this is the kind of thing she would have held that brings you very close to these ancient people in a way that nothing else could do."   Continued...