If you’ve ever visited the Cairo museum in Egypt, you’d know why exactly you have to pay over the entry charge to enter a small room that is always packed. This spot is home to several mummies in various stages of decomposition, and is a hot favourite among visitors. But if you think that the wrapped mummy is the stuff of nightmares or Halloween, a visit to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) can help you acquaint yourself with a fascinating civilisation, and some modern methods of mummy identification.
Till March 24, the museum will be the resting spot of a 3,000-year-old mummy brought on loan from the British museum. However, the highlight of the exhibit, Mummy: The Inside Story, is a 3D movie that allows visitors to don the garb of an investigator and decode Egyptian hieroglyphs to find out who this person was and what he did centuries ago. Using X-rays and CT scans, it takes you on a tour to find out how old he was and his occupation. "The film is a 3D immersive experience and unravels the mummy’s mystery using hi-tech techniques," says Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director general, CSMVS. "He is spending the winter in Mumbai. It is his last stop before he returns to London," adds Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum.
occupation: Priest in the temple of Karnak, and a fan-bearer to the king
Date: Around 800 BC
found: Luxor, Egypt,
in the 1890s
On display: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Entry: R50 for adults, R5 for children (10.30 am to
6 pm, film in Hindi and English every half hour)
Nesperennub’s mummy case has been around for over 100 years but has never been opened, as unwrapping mummies can badly damage them. But using
computers and modern scans, you can now see inside the case and work out what Nesperennub might have looked like.
See a bowl stuck to the back of his head? Though no one really knows how it got there, most believe that it was supposed to catch a runny sap called resin used to coat the body. But it got stuck and the workers just wrapped up the body anyway, hoping no one would notice. And nobody would have. Till now.
Inside Nesperennub's coffin is a case that holds his mummy. At the top you can see a scarab beetle with a falcon’s head. This is the sun god Ra. His body lies untouched inside his wrappings.
Thanks to the latest advances in computer technology, historians are now able to perform a ‘virtual unwrapping’ and to embark on a 3D journey within the body, visualising every feature. The movie is 20-minutes long. Inside, the good shape of his spine and the plates in his skull show that he was probably about 40 years old when he died. But there are signs that he could have had an illness like cancer.
As a priest of the temple of Karnak, Nesperennub was the opener of the doors of heaven. It was quite a job. He is also the first global mummy and has been lent to several museums. He is usually based in London, as is his father, while his mom lives in California, USA.