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Thursday, June 1 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Objects) Treatment of two badly damaged Egyptian Mummies and Associated Wooden Coffins

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The Field Museum has one of the larger collections of Egyptian mummies in the United States. In 2011 and 2012, mummies which were not on display were CT scanned using a mobile medical CT scanner. The results prompted a temporary in-house exhibit on mummies, and then a traveling exhibit. In this paper we discuss the analysis and treatment of Egyptian mummies in preparation for the traveling exhibit, with particular focus on two mummies with coffins, both quite fragile: ‘Minirdis' (a Ptolemaic mummy in a re-used Late Period coffin), and ‘Pen-Ptah' (a Late Period mummy and coffin). The mummy of Minirdis was lying in its coffin. CT scans showed that it had suffered one or more longitudinal shocks which resulted in tearing of wrappings, separation of the legs and feet, tearing of the shroud, and severe tearing, distortion, and fragmentation of the decorative cartonnage panels. Visual examination showed that wooden elements of the coffin had separated and some elements were lost. In addition, the clay fills used to smooth the contours of the coffin prior to painting had swollen and were extremely friable. The mummy of Pen-Ptah was partially unwrapped, lying on a painted board inside its inner coffin. The head of the mummy was fully unwrapped and had detached from the mummy and was held in position by being adhered to the board. It was clear that the body had partially decomposed prior to mummification and what skin that remained on the skull was peeling away from the bone. In this paper we discuss the treatment and display of these two mummies and their coffins, combining as they do the ethical questions of restoration and respect for human remains and ancient religious practice, in the context of a deadline-driven exhibit preparation schedule. In particular, we look at the problems of stabilizing and restoring human remains, inverting large fragile, non-rigid objects for examination and treatment, stabilizing and restoring painted wooden coffins, reconstructing cartonnage, and using laser, computed tomography, and photogrammetric 3D imaging to document object condition and design and fabricate display and travel mounts for the treated objects.

avatar for JP Brown

JP Brown

Regenstein Conservator for Pacific Anthropology, Field Museum
JP is the Regenstein Conservator for Pacific Anthropology at The Field Museum, Chicago. He holds degrees in both Archaeological Conservation and Computer Science. He started working on 3D imaging of museum collections in 2006 and has been doing CT, laser scanning, and photogrammetry... Read More →

avatar for Mimi Leveque

Mimi Leveque

Conservator of Objects, Peabody Essex Museum
Mimi Leveque is a conservator of objects and textiles with a special interest in archaeological materials, in particular ancient Egyptian artifacts. She has worked for over 30 years on the examination and conservation of Egyptian mummies and coffins. She has also conducted experiments... Read More →
avatar for Morgan Nau

Morgan Nau

Associate Conservator, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Morgan Nau is the Associate Conservator at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. She most recently held the position of Associate Conservator of Objects at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Before that, she spent time at The Field Museum where she prepared... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 2:00pm - 2:30pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower