Mummy of 2,500-year-old Egyptian priestess discovered in ’empty’ coffin:
An ancient Egyptian coffin, previously thought to be empty, holds the mummified remain of an Egyptian priestess who lived 2,500 years ago.
The University of Sydney in Australia acquired the sarcophagus more than 150 years back, but it sat untouched in the university’s Nicholson Museum until late 2017, when Specialists removed the coffin’s lid.
As soon as they looked inside, they were taken aback by the ragged remains of a mummy.
“The record previously said the coffin was empty or [filled] with debris,” Jamie Fraser, the lead investigator and senior curator at the museum, told Deutsche Welle (DW), German news outlets. “There is a lot more to it than previously thought.”
An analysis of the newfound mummy reveal that it is the remains of a person who died at about 30 years of age, the researcher’s stated.
According to hieroglyphs on the coffin’s side, the person was a priestess named Mer-Neith-it-es who lived in about 600 B.C.
“We know from the hieroglyphs that Mer-Neith-it-es worked in the Temple of Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess,” Fraser told DW.
But, the ancient Egyptian sometimes reused coffins, so it’s possible that the mummy is not that of the priestess but rather an interloper, the researchers said.
To learn more about the mummy, the specialists scanned the remains with a computed tomography machine, which takes thousands of X-rays that can then be pieced together into a digital 3D image.
These scans showed that the mummy contains several bones, bandages, resin fragment and upward of 7,000 glass beads that were sewn onto a funeral shawl, DW reported.
In particular, the researcher noticed that resin had been poured into the mummy’s skull after the brain was removed, Egyptologist Connie Lord told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
However, grave robbers apparently reached Mer-Neith-it-es before the Australian researcher did, as her body was heavily disturbed.
Even so, a study of her remains can inform scientists about the diets and diseases that affected ancient Egyptians, Fraser said.
Charles Nicholson, the universitys former chancellor, acquired the Egyptian coffin — as well as three others that contained ancient mummies — in 1860.
All 4 coffins will be put on display at the Nicholson Museum next to a display about research on the newly uncovered mummy, according to the ABC.