2500-year-old Egyptian mummy in Telangana museum gets a new life
A 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy housed in the Telangana State Archaeology Museum in Hyderabad, which had been facing the threat of disintegration over years, has now been restored to a large extent and experts say there is no threat of any decay for at least another two to three decades.
“The main reason for the decay of mummy was oxidation over a period of time. Based on the experts’ suggestions, the mummy was shifted from the wooden chamber into a glass chamber imported from Germany. The chamber is connected to a nitrogen supplier, which constantly supplies nitrogen and removes oxygen,” said B Ganga Devi, assistant director of the museum, who has been taking care of the mummy over the years.
The 1.40-metre-long mummy, believed to be that of Nasihu, the daughter of the Sixth Pharaoh of Egypt of 2500 BC, has been on display at the state museum since 1930.
The mummy was brought to Hyderabad by Nawab Nazeer Nawaz Jung, also known as Viqar-ul-Umrahi Paigah, the son-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, around 1920. Nawaz Jung had bought it for 1,000 pounds in an open auction.
“It was kept in the first floor of the now Chiran Fort in Begumpet for a long time, before it was gifted to Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam, who in turn donated it to the state museum in 1930,” heritage activist Mohammad Safiullah said.
Till a couple of years ago, the mummy was on display in an airtight wooden enclosure with glass planks on sides. “Over the years, the wooden chamber became weakened exposing the mummy to air, posing a risk of getting decayed,” said B Ganga Devi.
The embalmed body was getting fragmented around the face, shoulders and the feet. The wrapping around the body was getting peeled off and the cracks were very conspicuous at several places.
Several efforts have been made over the last 10-12 years to restore the mummy. In August 2009, the YS Rajasekhara Reddy government (then CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh) summoned an expert in restoration of mummies from Egypt.
“He made a preliminary study and went back. Some other experts from Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Egypt, were also supposed to join him in taking up the restoration work, but the project did not take off following the sudden demise of Rajasekhara Reddy in September 2009,” an official in the department of archaeology, who refused to be quoted, said.