Emorys mysterious royal mummy is going home.
Egypts Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities
Zahi Hawass has accepted the Carlos Museums offer to return
to Egypt a male mummy that scholarly evidence suggests is that of
the missing pharaoh Ramesses I, the founder of the famous line that
included Seti I and Ramesses II (The Great).
Since the museum acquired the mummy as part of a large collection
of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts purchased from the Niagara
Falls Museum in Canada in 1999, it has been the Carlos intent
to return the mummy to its rightful place as a goodwill gesture
from the citizens of Atlanta.
The mummy will be the centerpiece of an exhibition, Ramesses
I: Science and the Search for the Lost Pharaoh, to be held
at the Carlos beginning May 3, 2003. Upon conclusion of the exhibition,
the museums Egyptologist, Peter Lacovara, will join with Hawass
and others to present the mummy to Egypt with appropriate fanfare
At the beginning, I compared this to finding George Washingtons
body abroadcertainly, we would hope [Washingtons body]
would be sent back to the United States, Lacovara said. It
is exciting to now be collaborating more closely with our colleagues
in Egypt, to be moving closer to the moment when we return the mummy
to the people of Egypt, and to have an opportunity to share an exhibition
with visitors before its departure.
The mummy was purchased in the 1860s in Luxor, Egypt, by a broker
for the Niagara Falls Museum. It was roughly the same time that
a famous cache of royal mummies at Deir el-Bahri was discovered
by the Abed el-Rassul family and was partially sold off without
the knowledge that it was the burial place of Egypts most
fabled pharaohs. In the 1980s German Egyptologist Arne Eggebrecht
examined the mummy in Niagara Falls and suggested it could be one
of the missing royal mummies.
The position of the mummys arms (crossed over the chest)
was reserved for royal mummies until the Late Dynastic Period (525343
B.C.). The careful treatment of the body and other details of the
mummification, however, suggest an early date, as does radiocarbon
dating of the mummy, which places it in the New Kingdom (15701070
B.C.), the era of Ramesses I (12931291 B.C.). Perhaps the
most compelling of all the evidence is the physical resemblance
of this mummy to the features of Seti I, the son of Ramesses I.
Emory Hospitals Department of Radiology conducted CT-scanning,
revealing elaborate mummification techniques, including copious
amounts of resin in the skull, a practice usually lavished only
on royal mummies. Visiting scholars included James Harris, a physician
who has X-rayed all the royal mummies in the Cairo Museum, and mummification
expert Salima Ikram, professor at American University in Cairo and
a renowned authority on mummification. Each found the evidence compelling.