The Albany Mummies: Unraveling an Ancient Mystery
SUMMARY: On March 31st Albany Institute’s two mummies will travel to Albany Medical Center to undergo x-rays and CT scans in anticipation of the exhibition GE Presents: the Mystery of the Albany Mummies: the Story of Ankhefenmut.
Experts hope that these medical imaging results will reveal details
about the mummies’ genders, causes of death, and their lives long ago.
This new research will be included in a documentary titled “The Albany
Mummies: Unraveling an Ancient Mystery”. The documentary is a Center
for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences’ medical humanities initiative
in collaboration with the Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany
Medical Center, University at Albany Foundation, and the University at
Albany College of Arts & Sciences. The film’s producers are
Professors Mary Valentis and William Rainbolt with assistance from UA
students Richard Hale and Jennifer Pushee and a professional film crew.
UA vice president Fardin Sanai is executive producer.
ANCIENT EGYPT GALLERY (Currently):
Three key concepts: The Nile, Daily Life, and the Afterlife, are
explored through objects, text, and hands-on activities to give an
overview of ancient Egypt. This gallery, located on the third floor,
features the Albany Institute’s mummies along with loan objects from
major national museums. The documentary will also be featured in the Institute’s 2013exhibition.
THE SCANS (March 31, 2012): Arthur
Pielli, Radiology Manager at Albany Medical Center, and two
radiologists, Phuong Nguyen Vinh, MD, and Michael Edward Schuster, MD
will examine the mummies. The results will then be analyzed with the
help of Egyptologist and medical doctor Dr. Robert Brier, a Senior
Research Fellow at Long Island University known as “Mr. Mummy,” and Dr.
Peter Lacovara, the exhibition’s guest curator and Senior Curator of
Egypt, Nubia and Near East at the Carlos Museum at Emory University.
and CT scans last examined the mummies were by on November 12, 1988.
This preliminary analysis helped to determine the mummies’ sex,
approximate ages, and various insights into the mummification process.
The x-rays and CT scans show a number of bundles inside both of the
mummies. Based on the last scan, it was determined that the partially
unwrapped mummy is Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak
in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC). Ankhefenmut is reported
to have died in 966 and was probably between 55 and 65 years old at the
time of his death. The wrapped mummy is a woman. Her name is not known
because the top of the coffin was badly deteriorated and left in Cairo
by Mr. Brown in 1909. According to Mr. Brown she also came from the
cache at Deir el-Bahri. X-rays reveal that she was probably between
35-45 years old when she died. During Dynasty XXI, a change in the
practice of mummification occurred. The internal organs were no longer
placed in canopic jars, but were usually wrapped in linen packages.
These packages were then placed in the empty body or placed between the
legs. Canopic jars, however, continued to be a part of the funerary
equipment, but were made smaller. Perhaps the most interesting
discovery was a well-crafted fake toe, possibly made of ceramic,
carefully attached to the right foot of the wrapped mummy. It is
presumed that the toe was fashioned for the woman during the
mummification process because of the belief that one had to be
physically intact to enter the afterlife. This discovery was
highlighted on The Learning Channel’s program, The Ancient ER, in February 2003.
THE FILM PROJECT (Production in spring 2012, debut late 2012):
A film will be made to document the trip of the mummies from the
Institute to Albany Medical Center. The film will include interviews
with respected paleopathologists, Institute staff specialists, medical
experts, and others involved in the project. At least two versions of
the documentary will result in an 8-10 minute gallery film to be shown
in conjunction with the AIHA exhibit, and a longer adaptation,
approximately 15-20 minutes, suitable for different platforms, such as
Web sites and DVD.
UPCOMING EXHIBITION (September 21-June 8, 2013): GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies: The Story of Ankfenmut
will be on display in the main floor galleries. The exhibition is
based around four significant objects from its ancient Egypt
collections. New research has determined that the mummy cover and
coffin lid of the elaborately decorate 21st
Dynasty coffin, which belonged to Ankfenmut, a priest in the temple of
Mut, are in the collections of the British Museum, London, and the
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, respectively. This exhibition will
reunite the coffin with its lid and its coffin-board for the first time
in more than 100 years. Dr. Peter Lacovara is the Guest Curator. The
exhibition will feature 200 objects occupying 5,000 sq. ft. on the
museum’s main floor. In addition to objects from AIHA’s collection, the
exhibition will be enhanced with major loans from the British Museum,
American Natural History Museum, the Semitic Museum, the Brooklyn
Museum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Hecksher Museum of Art,
Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, Morgan Library and Museum
and several private collections. GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies has been funded by General Electric and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.