Egyptian mummy cases revisited
14 July 2010
This week Dr Aidan Dodson, Senior Research Fellow at Bristol University, visited RAMM to study our collection of mummy coffins.
Dr Dodson is compiling a catalogue of mummies and coffin fragments from South West Britain: Truro, Plymouth, Bristol, Swansea and Exeter. The redevelopment of the museum has provided the ideal opportunity for him to study the objects while they are in the stores, rather than behind glass in a display case.
RAMM’s Egyptology collection contains nearly 600 objects, ranging from pre-dynastic stone tools to post-Roman textiles. Perhaps the most well-known object is the mummy, coffin and cartonnage of Shep-en-Mut, who has been a favourite feature in the museum for many years. Yet Shep-en-Mut is just one of five complete or fragmentary mummy cases held in the museum’s collections. The other items include the mummy board of Au-Set-Shu-Mut, two coffin masks from dynastic Egypt and a Greek or Roman period coffin mask.
These items were all donated to the museum between 50 and 100 years ago. Little information was recorded at that time as to where the fragments had come from, or how old they were. Since then new discoveries and ideas have changed our understanding of these items.
The most exciting moment of Dr Dodson’s visit was the ‘discovery’ of a small face mask which, until this week, was thought to be from a child’s coffin. Dr Dodson revealed it was actually from an adult’s coffin, but in a style which was only made during a 50 year period around 3,500 years ago. Very few of these are known in museum collections.
All five mummy cases and fragments will be on display in the new museum displays, along with the new information revealed about them.
Image: Dr Aidan Dodson studying the mummy board of Au-Set-Shu-Mut