Fascinating Mummies at The National Museum of Scotland

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For centuries, people have been fascinated by the complex rituals which surrounded death and the afterlife in ancient Egypt, especially mummification and burial. 

A mummy mask featured in the exhibition [Credit: The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden]

The National Museum of Scotland, having undergone a huge multimillion-pound refurbishment, is currently hosting its first international exhibition, Fascinating Mummies. 

It features treasures from two of the world’s great ancient Egyptian collections with objects dating back as far as 4000BC helping guide visitors through Egypt’s past. 

Items on display have come from The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, Netherlands, which has one of the world’s leading ancient Egyptian collections, with an extraordinary range of material including human and animal mummies. 

There’s also a small selection from National Museums Scotland’s own collections, including mummies and coffins collected in the mid-19th century by Scottish archaeologist Alexander Henry Rhind. 

For many, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these internationally significant exhibits, as the National Museum of Scotland will be the only UK venue for this exhibition. 

Along with remarkable displays of Egyptian material, the exhibition reveals insights into how modern science can cast light on the ancient world as it looks at how, over time, scholars, archaeologists and scientists have set about obtaining information on the Egyptian way of death. 

Visualisation technology shows how modern science has been able to provide new discoveries through the use of non-invasive X-rays and now CT (computerised tomography) scanning. 

Facial reconstructions based on these scans literally bring the visitor face to face with the past. 

A highlight of a visit to the exhibition is the mummy of Ankhhor, a priest serving in the temple of the god Montu in Thebes (modern Luxor) around 650BC. 

Unlike many mummies, Ankhhor was never unwrapped or subjected to intrusive research. 

Scientists in the Netherlands discovered from a CT scan information about his anatomy, age, health, how he was mummified, and the amulets concealed between his wrappings. 

The exhibition will show how this information builds on what was known previously from the hieroglyphs on his three coffins, all of which will be on display. 

The National Museum of Scotland is on Chambers Street, Edinburgh. 

Cost: Admission to the museum is free of charge. Admission to Fascinating Mummies costs: Adults £9, concessions £7.50, child £6 and family (two adults and two children) £26. A book to accompany the exhibition, priced £5.99, is available from National Museums Scotland shops and selected retailers. 

When: Fascinating Mummies is on display until Sunday, May 27. The museum is open from 10am-5pm daily. 

For more information visit The National Museum of Scotland’s website

Source: The Press and Journal [May 03, 2012]

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