Egyptian mummy destined to return to Egypt still in Durban
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DURBAN - The Egyptian mummy earmarked to leave South Africa for Egypt last week is still on display at the Durban Natural Science museum.
IOL reported that the municipality was speaking to the Egyptian government through the embassy in Pretoria to return the mummy. Egypt had started a process of collecting these mummies that were taken out their country.
According to the museum, the mummy was bought by the Durban Museum sometime between 1889 and 1910 from a British army officer, Major William Joseph Myers, who had served in Egypt for five years. The mummy is said to be that of a minor priest named Peten-Amun (Ptn-’Imn), thought to have died aged about 60.
According to the Egyptian Society of South Africa, there are three recorded ancient Egyptian mummies in South Africa. One is preserved in the Albany Museum in Grahamstown, another in the National Cultural History Museum in Pretoria. The third is in the Durban Natural Science Museum.
According to an article published by the Egyptian Society of South Africa in November 1984, the mummy in Durban was X-rayed. A mystery surrounds several missing bones: femur and tibia (left leg), patellae (left and right knee caps), and feet (left and right). All these bones were replaced by false structures, possibly made of wood and linen stuffing, within the wrappings.
A reconstruction of the head of Peten-Amun was completed in 1990 by Dr Bill Aulsebrook who holds a PhD in Forensic Facial Reconstruction.
A computerised axial tomography (CAT) scan was taken at the King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban and plastic templates were made from the individual sectional images. The templates were assembled to form a three-dimensional construction of the skull. Aulsebrook was able to build up the facial musculature features. The bust is displayed alongside the coffin and mummy.
Hillcrest resident Dave Leppan said his son Bradley, 11, visited the museum last week. Bradley attends Hillcrest Primary School. Leppan said a natural science lesson at school sparked his interest in the subject of mummies.
“The Grade 11 pupils had a dress-up. My son was learning about mummification and learnt this mummy was about to leave our country. From what I heard, the rain delayed its departure. Bradley wanted to wish him a safe journey home in person. It’s inspired Bradley. He talks about becoming an archaeologist some day.”
Eric Apelgren, head of the department of International and Governance Relations at the eThekwini Municipality, said recent changes to legislation regarding how museums keep mortal remains have necessitated them re-looking at the mummy the city had under its care. Negotiations were at an early stage.