Makeover for Aberdeen-based Egyptian mummy ahead of Munich exhibit

An ancient Egyptian mummy stored in Aberdeen has been given a makeover for an exhibition abroad.

Mistress of the House Ta Khar will be going on show near Munich on Friday after being shipped out from the University of Aberdeen’s museum collection.

But before facing the public, the embalmed body was put through a makeover to make sure she looked her best.

Neil Curtis, head of museums, said: “The mummy was conserved by a Jens Klocke, a specialist conservator based in Hildesheim.

“Before she was transported to Germany our conservators, Caroline Dempsey and Hannah Clarke, secured loose beads with pins and netting, then oversaw her being put into a specially-constructed transport crate.

“In Hildesheim, Jens cleaned and secured the bandages, then reconstructed the bead net that had become damaged over the centuries.

“He noticed the bandages had been crimped when the mummy was put into her coffin and suggests the coffin was therefore made too small.”

Specialists spent time ensuring that as much as possible of the Mistress of the House, Ta Khar was intact.
Specialists spent time ensuring that as much as possible of the Mistress of the House, Ta Khar was intact.

The bead net was tangled up while vegetable fibre threads had started to perish.

Many beads were lost and the original net design was also disfigured.

Some pieces were later recovered from inside the inner coffin and could be reconnected.

It took a few days for the specialists to do the conservation needed.

Ta Khar is recorded as being the daughter of Tha en Meh.

Previously she was thought to be from the Ptolemaic period – 305BC to 30BC – but new research from the conservation suggests she lived during the 25th to 26th dynasty – 700BC to 600BC.

The mummy was then put through a CT scan at the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim.

The high quality of embalming also shows she was from the highest levels of the Egyptian aristocracy.

She has more than 50 layers of linen wrappings – something usually associated with high status male mummification.

The university’s the Mistress of the House, Ta Khar.
The university’s the Mistress of the House, Ta Khar.

Mr Curtis added: “The research team, based in Hildesheim and the University of Goettingen are now hoping to be able to discover how she was mummified – and even work on a reconstruction of what she looked like.”

The University of Aberdeen has 5,848 pieces in its ancient Egyptian catalogue, with some dating back more than 5,100 years.

It is the second biggest collection of its type in Scotland, eclipsed only by National Museums of Scotland.

Around 150 objects will be going on display in the Lokschuppen Rosenheim exhibition centre near Munich for nearly six months from Friday.

The university is also lending a CT scan of a mummified feline.

Pharaoh: living in Ancient Egypt, explores building, religion and society through artefacts, detailed models and digital stations.