Two 'Perfect' 3,400-year-old Egyptian Mummies To Be Restored
Two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi containing mummies, that are to be restored and displayed at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) in Cairo, were recently unpacked and witnessed by Khaled al-Anany, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The 3,400-year-old mummies belong to a senior official called Sennedjem, who was an overseer of work at the Deir al-Medina necropolis in Luxor, during the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II of the 19th dynasty, and his wife Iyneferti. General supervisor of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) told Xinhuanet that “Sennedjem” was a nickname of the servant of the Palace of Truth, Ahmad al-Sherbini, and the two mummies were inside colored wooden sarcophagi.
The two Egyptian mummies were inside colored wooden sarcophagi. (Ministry of Antiquities)
17 Royal Egyptian Mummies To Be Exhibited
Sennedjem's bodies were discovered on January 31, 1886 in a tomb on the west bank of the Nile by Maspero, a French Egyptologist, with 20 other mummies. Sherbini said that the two bodies are perfectly preserved and that the mummification process resembled that of the royal kings, and that they will be fumigated in a sterilization capsule in a special restoration lab for more than 20 days. Khaled al-Anany added that this process would cleanse the mummies of any insects.
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The mummies will be restored and put on display. (Ministry of Antiquities)
The Egyptian mummies will eventually be displayed in the new NMEC museum which overlooks Ain el-Sirah lake in the ancient city of Fustat in Cairo, which officially opens in December. The pair will be exhibited alongside a collection of 50,000 artifacts illustrating life in ancient Egypt and after the mummies’ hall is inaugurated it will include a total of 17 royal Egyptian mummies, Sherbini told the press.
Servant Of The Palace Of Truth
The ancient Egyptian artisan Sennedjem lived opposite Thebes in Set Maat (The Place of Truth) on the west bank of the Nile during the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II and according to Osiris.net when Sennedjem's tomb was first discovered it was found with everyday furniture from his home.
Two beautifully painted and sculpted sarcophagi belonging to Sennedjem and his wife were moved. (Ministry of Antiquities)
His title, “Servant in the Place of Truth” means that he worked on the excavations and decorations of the nearby royal tombs and that he resided in Deir el-Medina. This ancient Egyptian village was home to the craftsmen who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom of Egypt between 1550 and 1080 BC. According to Cambridge Ancient History, nowhere in Egypt can the organization, social interactions, working and living conditions of a community be studied in such details as at Deir el-Medina.
Tomb of Sennedjem in Deir el-Medina where the mummies were discovered. (kairoinfo4u / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Post Death Spiritual Secrets
Located on the west bank of the Nile across the river from modern-day Luxor the ancient village is laid out in a small natural amphitheater beside the Valley of the Kings to the north, with funerary temples to the east and southeast and the Valley of the Queens to the west. It is thought that the village was built at a distance from the greater population to maintain secrecy over the highly-sensitive nature of the post death work carried out on bodies within the tombs.
According to scholar Jac Janssen in his 1980 paper Absence from Work by the Necropolis Workmen of Thebes records from Deir el-Medina offer unique insights into the medical workings of the New Kingdom. The workforce of Deir el-Medina received both medical treatments from physicians and prayers and magic from a “scorpion charmer” who specialized in providing magical cures for scorpion bites.
The mummies belong to Sennedjem and his wife. (Ministry of Antiquities / Facebook)
Spells and magical remedies are known to have been widely used among the workforce, but written medical texts were much rarer, indicating that the trained physicians mixed the more complicated remedies themselves. And while several documents illustrate writers sending for medical ingredients, it is unclear if these were sent according to a physician’s prescription or to fulfill a home remedy.
Top image: Two perfectly preserved Egyptian mummies from the Palace of Truth in Deir al-Medina are being restored and will be put on exhibit. Source: Ministry of Antiquities
By Ashley Cowie