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Mummy. Results of Interdisciplinary Examination of the Egyptian Mummy of Aset-iri-khet-es from the Archaeological Museum in Cracow

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ISBN: 83-987345-5-3
Description: softcover, 240 pages (19x26 cm), photographs, drawings
Condition: very good
Weight: 505g.

 

Mummy. Results of Interdisciplinary Examination of the Egyptian Mummy of Aset-iri-khet-es from the Archaeological Museum in Cracow, Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cracow 2001
 


Krzysztof Babraj, Hanna Szymanska
Introduction
Krzysztof Babraj
The ethics of research on mummified human remains
Hanna Szymanska
Tadeusz Smolenski. Excavations at el-Gamhud
Andrzej Niwinski
Coffin, cartonnage and mummy of Aset-iri-khet-es in the light of Egyptological research
Katarzyna Tempczyk
The mummy's wrappings
Andrzej Urbanik
Comprehensive radiological examination
Maria Kaczmarek
Reconstruction of lifelike appearance
Matgorzata Ktys, Teresa Lech, Janina Zi^ba-Palus, Jozefa Biafka
A chemical and physicochemical investigations
Matgorzata Ktys, Barbara Opolska-Bogusz, Barbara Prochnicka
Aserological and histological study
Agnieszka Sutkowska
Molecular analysis of ancient DNA isolated from mummy's tissues
Tomasz Grzybowski, Jakub Czarny, Marcin Wozniak, Danuta Miscicka-Sliwka
Sequencing of mtDNA region V from a 2.300 years old Egyptian mummy
Maria Lityriska-Zajac
Macroscopic plant remains from the sarcophagus
Birgit Gerisch
Archaoentomologische Untersuchungen an Mumien, Grabbeigaben und Grabern
des alten Agypten unter besonderer Berucksichtigung der Mumie Aset-iri-khet-es
Marian Paciorek
Conservation of a wooden painted coffin from Ancient Egypt
in the collection of the Archaeological Museum in Cracow
Barbara Aleksiejew-Wantuch
Conservation of a cartonnage piece of the mummy of Aset-iri-khet-es
Joanna Trabska, Barbara Trybalska
Aset-iri-khet-es' mummy mask: pigments, their preparation and corrosion phenomena. Gomaa Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel-Maksoud
Conservation of Egyptian mummies. Part I: Experimental study on the Ancient Egyptian technique of mummification
Gomaa Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel-Maksoud
Conservation of Egyptian mummies. Part II: Survey study for the highest
occurrence of microorganisms on Egyptian mummies
List of authors
 

The present volume contains a collection of articles written by specialists from various fields involved in research conducted on the mummy of a priestess of Isis named Aset-iri-khet-es,1 who lived in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period (late 4th - 1st centuries B.C.).

In 1994, at the initiative of employees of the Division of Mediterranean Archaeology at the Archaeological Museum in Cracow, interdisciplinary studies were commenced on this mummy, which comes from the Ptolemaic necropolis at el-Gamhud, where excavations were performed in 1907 by Tadeusz Smolensk! (cf. H. Szymanska). The very poor state of preservation of this mummy, which had been plundered in antiquity, and the necessity to empty the sarcophagus prior to conservation, led to the decision to conduct the research described in the present volume. The result constitutes an important contribution to our knowledge of mummification methods in Ancient Egypt, as yet not fully understood, and of various factors associated with burials in the declining years of Egyptian civilization.

The preservation of the human body after death was an essential precondition for prolonging that person's existence. According to Egyptian mythology, the first mummy was made by the goddess Isis, who assembled the dismembered limbs of her divine husband Osiris, after he had been quartered by his brother, Set. Every deceased person before being laid in the grave was identified with Osiris and subjected to complicated embalment operations, which were accompanied by specific religious rituals. Despite a great deal of information preserved in ancient sources regarding the methods of mummification, the process has never been recreated in a fully satisfactory form. Since the early 20th century,2 scholars have attempted to verify the information given by such classical authors as Herodotus (II. 86-88) in the fifth century B.C., or Diodorus Siculus (1.91-92) in the first century B.C. The fragments of two papyri from the first half of the first century (papyrus no. 3 from Bulak and papyrus no. 5158 from the Louvre), copies of originals from the New Kingdom, are a much more valuable source; but although they provide us with many valuable indications regarding the embalming process, they cover only its final stages. At present it is necessary to verify all this information using the research apparatus that is available to us today.

The use of modern research techniques, the application of specialized analyses from various ancillary disciplines, and finally the unwrapping of the mummy brought extraordinarily interesting results. With due regard for the complex ethical factors involved in research on human remains, we were fully aware of the necessity to bring the mummy to a state that would make it possible to return it safely to the sarcophagus, its place of final rest. The decision was made to wrap the mummy in ancient bandages, with some additional modern bandaging added (cf. K. Babraj).

An Egyptological analysis of the sarcophagus and the cartonnage that lay directly on the mummy, as well as an extraordinarily painstaking interpretation of the highly unusual amulets found under the bandages, is presented by A. Niwinski in his article. During the autopsy a great deal of valuable information was obtained regarding the method of bandaging and the type of fabric used to wrap the mummy (cf. K. Tempczyk).

The first test performed on the mummy was spiral computer tomography, thanks to which it was possible to identify the bone elements, the remains of soft tissues, and the arrangement of bandages, which proved to be essential during the later autopsy (cf. A. Urbanik).

The anthropological analysis of the mummified remains, which made it possible to specify the age and height of Aset-iri-khet-es at the moment of her death, as well as the pathological changes in the bones and teeth of the skeleton, constituted an extraordinarily important part of the project. These examinations also produced her lifetime appearance, obtained thanks to a computer program (cf. M. Kaczmarek).

Physical, chemical, serological and histopathological examinations were performed on samples taken from the mummified remains. The results indicate that pine resin (Pinuspinea, Pinuspinaster) was used to mummify the Egyptian priestess from Cracow, while no traces were found of the bitumin universally used in the Ptolemaic period (cf. M. Ktys et al., A chemical...).

Serological tests performed on a sample of muscle tissue taken from the mummy made it possible to confirm the presence of human protein, which is testimony to the effectiveness of the mummification process. It was also possible to identify the blood type of the priestess (cf. M. Ktys et al., A serological...).

A skin sample taken from the scalp of Aset-iri-khet-es was used to clone a fragment of the genetic code (DNA) (cf. A. Sutkowska). Attempts to isolate ancient human DNA were first undertaken in the early 1980s. The goal of this research is to explore the mechanisms underlying evolutionary changes taking place in our species. In the present volume we have also included.......

 

 

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