On this month's Oddities in the News Page:

Modern science opens new doors into an ancient Egyptian mummy




Ankh Khonsu ... An ancient Egyptian priest “visits an Italian hospital”

June 22, 2021 -- The mummy of Ankh Khonsu, an ancient Egyptian priest, has been moved from the Museum of Civil Archeology in Bergamo to Milan’s Policlinico Hospital, where experts will shed light on his life and funerary traditions some 3,000 years ago.

“The mummies are practically a biological museum. They are like a time capsule,” said Sabina Mulgora, director of the Mummies Research Project.

Mulgora explained that the mummy’s name is engraved on the sarcophagus, which dates back to between 800 and 900 BC, and means “God Khonsu is alive.”

The researchers believe that they can gather information about the life and death of the Egyptian priest, and determine the types of materials used in his mummification.

“Studying ancient diseases and injuries is important for modern medical research. We can study cancer and atherosclerosis in the past and that could be useful for modern research,” Mulgora said.

“Mummies are practically a biological museum, they are like a time capsule,” said the director of the research project Sabina Mulgora,

Mulgora said the mummy’s name is engraved on the sarcophagus, meaning “God Khonsu is alive.”

Researchers believe that they can gather information about the life and death of the Egyptian priest and determine the types of materials used in his embalming.

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Good things come in ancient packages


Project to make complete visual digital records of three 3,000-year-old coffins turns up a painting of a deity

Harvard Gazette -- Three men, one at each end and one at the middle, slowly and gingerly lifted the wooden lid as if handling a giant eggshell. Quietly offering each other direction and status reports, they glided a few steps and placed the lid atop an Ethafoam support structure for safekeeping.

Then they looked back at the 3,000-year-old coffin and what was now visible inside: an image of the ancient Egyptian sun god Ra-Horakhty, partially obscured by a thick, tar-like coating.

It “was a heart-stopping moment,” said Peter Der Manuelian, Barbara Bell Professor of Egyptology and director of the Harvard Semitic Museum, of the discovery his team made last month after opening the coffin of Ankh-khonsu, a doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun-Ra.

The body of Ankh-khonsu had been removed more than 100 years ago when the coffin was brought from Egypt to Cambridge, and the container was reopened about 30 years ago. But for reasons unknown, “there was no modern documentation of the coffin’s interior, so we had no idea what to expect, plain wood or an exquisitely painted deity staring back at us,” said Manuelian. “It turned out to be the latter, hiding somewhat beneath a layer of resinous material used in the funeral process.” The two other coffins, whose former inhabitants were the female temple singer Mut-iy-iy and a priest and metal engraver named Pa-di-mut, had more complete records.

Despite the uneven texture of the area and the dark coating, Manuelian and his colleagues could see the yellow, orange, and blue painting and the hieroglyphs that read “Ra-Horakhty, the great God, Lord of Heaven” next to the figure.

Consulting conservators Dennis and Jane Piechota, who regularly work with the Semitic Museum and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, ensured that the coffins were removed from their display cases safely, transported to the research room, and laid out properly for photography and scanning.

Note: different articles display it differently: some as Ankh Khonsu and others as Ankh-khonsu.

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