The British Museum’s next big exhibition reveals secrets that experts have been able only to guess at – until now
Spare a thought for the unknown adult mummified in a Theban necropolis more than 2,500 years go. Not only did he suffer the most excruciating, possibly life-threatening dental abscesses, but the embalmer botched the afterlife preparation, leaving bits of brain in his skull as well as a broken section of the spatula he was using to remove it.
Then there’s Tamut, a temple singer with enough calcified plaque in her arteries to risk a heart attack or stroke.
Tamut and the unknown adult male are two of the British Museum’s 120 Egyptian and Sudanese mummies. Experts now know far more about them because of new “electronic excavations” using the latest generation of medical CT scanners.
The museum on Wednesday revealed the fresh insights as it announced details of an interactive exhibition, Ancient lives, new discoveries, which will be £10 for adults and free for those particularly fascinated by brains being scooped out of skulls through the nose – the under 16s.
John Taylor, the museum’s mummy curator, said the new techniques had allowed researchers to discover much more about life and death along the Nile more than 5,000 years ago.
The museum has not unwrapped a body in 200 years. “We don’t want to disturb what is inside these bodies,” said Taylor. “They are incredibly fragile, and they are also human beings who actually lived.”