Newly restored Egyptian mummy on display in the Royal Cornwall Museum

By Alice Burton | 31 July 2009
Picture of a woman restoring an egyptian coffin under a lamp

The mummy's coffin took many months to restore. Picture courtesy Royal Cornwall Museum

A 2,600-year-old mummy is being displayed at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. Mr Tucker of Saltash, who acquired the mummy many years earlier from the British Consul in Alexandria, donated it to the Royal Institution of Cornwall in 1837.

As per Victorian custom, the bandages were removed and the body had been varnished. The outer coffin had also been painted, covering the intricate Egyptian designs.

Fortunately the coffin is now restored to its former glory thanks to the Museum staff, who have painstakingly spent months removing the paint.

Laura Radcliffe, the conservator who was responsible for restoring the coffin, spent over 150 hours on the refurbishment. “The Victorian varnish had gone brown and the paint that was used obliterated much of the decoration. I used a solvent that I applied like a poultice – leaving it on the wood just long enough to draw off what was no longer required.” she said. “Now the bright colours of the original hieroglyphics are there for all to see.”

Picture of a woman using a tool to remove paint from an Egyptian coffin

The coffin contains the mummified remains of Egyptian priest Ast Tayef Nakht. Picture courtesy Royal Conwall Museum

The mummy, which is being displayed in the museum’s Egyptian Gallery, is the remains of priest Ast Tayef Nakht. Egyptians would often mummify their bodies after death as they believed it would allow their spirit to live in Paradise. During this time, his organs would have been removed and placed in the tomb with him.

He was thought to be between 60 and 65 years old when he died. During his life he would have witnessed the invasion of Egypt by the Assyrians, the bloody conflict which followed, and the reunion of the country some years later.

Jane Marley, Curator of World Cultures, said, “He must have had a remarkable life and although his body is thousands of miles from where it was laid to rest, he is continuing to be remembered and respected. He is helping thousands of visitors to learn and understand a little more about his history, culture and society.”

For more information on visiting this magnificent artefact, visit their website or call 01872 272205.

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