Mummies @ the SA Museum

I guess this is technically Egyptian stuff, not Australian stuff… But it’s in Australia


Mummy of a Nubian Priest

This mummy was excavated by Professor George Riesner of the Harvard Exploration Society, who undertook an archaeological survey during 1906-9 of the cemeteries to be covered by the waters of the proposed Aswan dam. The burial chamber of this or a closely similar mummy is illustrated in The Archaeological Survey of Nubia, Report for 1908-09 as Grave 794 of Cemetery 89. The cemetery was reported to be of the Ptolemaic period. C14 dating of the mummy’s bone suggests he died around the time of Christ. The red colouring of the wrappings indicates the mummy was of a male.

The mummy was removed to the Cairo museum. Dr. Archibald Watson, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Adelaide, obtained the mummy from the Keeper of the Cairo Museum, James Quibell, whilst he was serving near Cairo as Chief Pathologist during the First World War. He then passed it on to Sir Edward Stirling, previously director of the South Australian Museum, and Stirling presented it to the Museum in March 1916. The information that the mummy is that of a priest comes from Watson.


Cat Mummies

Cats were the sacred animals of the goddess Bastet, a local deity of the Delta region of Egypt. She was usually represented as a woman with the head of a cat. A temple and a cemetery for her sacred animals were located at Bubastis in Lower Egypt. Bastet gained special prominence in the 22nd Dynasty (945-715 B.C.) when Bubastis became the state capital.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, it was considered a crime to harm a cat. When a pet cat died, members of the household shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning and sent the bodies to be mummified.


Mummy and coffin of Renpit-Nefert (‘Beautiful-Year’)

The hieroglyphs on Renpit-Nefert’s coffin name her father as Nes-Heru and her mother as Khart-Meht. The gods painted on her coffin grant her ‘… a beautiful burial’. The elaborate nature of her mummification and coffin suggests that her family was wealthy, otherwise we know little about her. On the basis of the painted coffin designs, it has been estimated she was buried around 2500 years ago. However C14 dating of the mummy’s bone suggest she died around 2400 years ago.

The coffin and mummy of Renpit-Nefert were obtained for the South Australian Museum by Rev. William Roby Fletcher in Cairo in 1890 and is believed to have come from Akhmim (Apu or Panopolis), the centre of textile manufacturing in ancient Egypt.

And a few spare parts that give me a hankering for beef jerky…




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