Academics have used X-rays to visualise an Ancient Egyptian mummy that has been part of an Aberdeen university collection for more than 200 years.
Ta-Kheru, who was born around 750 BC, is the focus of an exhibition at Aberdeen University’s Sir Duncan Rice gallery.
Using computed tomography (CT) scans and the latest medical visualisation techniques, researchers have been able to recreate her body from mummified remains – a first for the university. And a facial reconstruction has also revealed what she would have looked like.
The CT scans showed that her body was covered in more than 50 layers of linen wrappings treated with embalming resin.
She also had a shroud over her face, indicating she was of a high status.
As well as being able to see her sarcophagus and coffin, which have been in the university’s collections since the 18th Century, there is a hologram and X-ray of what her skeleton looks like.
The facial reconstruction used the bones of her skeleton, as well as discussion and research into her ethnicity, influenced by the belief that her grandmother was a Syrian prisoner of war.
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Other details, such as the fact she was a mother, had teeth missing and signs of bone atrophy have helped to paint a fuller picture of Ta-Kheru’s life, and where she lived up until her late 60s or early 70s – almost double the average life expectancy for the time.
Neil Curtis, head of museums and special collections at Aberdeen University, said: “There are three bits to the exhibition – the story, seeing the real mummy and the facial reconstruction, where you see her as a real person and the wow of technology, which is quite emotive, as you’re seeing her skeleton.
“She’s been in the university for more than 200 years and it’s only in the last year that we’ve now found out who she was – and that’s astonishing. We’ve found out her family, when she was born and when she died.
“It’s a focus on one woman’s life, and that’s something that makes this exhibition different, as there are plenty of exhibitions on Ancient Egypt.
“She is one of the earliest mummies to have been found and taken to a museum so that’s why she’s not in as good condition as her sister, if you look at pictures, as she was excavated archaeology.”
There is a range of events ongoing as part of the exhibition, which are free but require booking.
For information on the events and to reserve a space, visit abdn.ac.uk/museums/news-events
Ta-Kheru will remain on exhibition until December 11, after which she will travel to Cincinnati as part of a partnership with the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum of Hildesheim, and will begin a tour of the US from February.
The partnership with the Hildesheim museum has allowed the reconstruction work to be undertaken, with the face created by Museums Partner.
Neil added: “We’ve got the collection, but we don’t have the expertise in Aberdeen. No one does Egyptology. We’re getting to see the premiere.
“The lid of her coffin is currently in Victoria, in British Columbia, on loan.”