A group of researchers has opened a 3,000-year-old ancient Egyptian sarcophagus and made an incredible discovery inside: a series of ancient Egyptian paintings have been discovered on the inside of the sarcophagus after curators from the New City Hall Museum from Perth, Scotland removed the mummy from inside the sarcophagus.
The researchers removed the mummy from inside the sarcophagus in order to restore the ancient artifact believed to date back some 3,000-year-old and display it in the museum’s exhibition. The ancient sarcophagus is believed to have belonged to a person called Ta-Kr-Hb—pronounced Takerheb—who was either an ancient priestess or princess of the city of Thebes.
After removing the mummy from the interior of the sarcophagus, experts were left surprised seeing painted figurines of an ancient Egyptian Goddess on both the internal and external base of the sarcophagus. Both the figurines are believed to illustrate Amentet, a goddess popularly known as the “She of the West” or the “Lady of the West.” The mummy of Ta-Kr-Hb was donated to the Perth museum by the Alloa Society of Natural Science and Archaeology in 1936.
Speaking to the PA News Agency, Dr. Mark Hall, collections officer at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, explained what a surprise it was to see the paintings on the interior of the sarcophagus.
“We had never had a reason to lift the whole thing so high that we could see the underneath of the trough and had never lifted the mummy out before and didn’t expect to see anything there. It was a great surprise to see these paintings appear,” Dr. Hall revealed.
“to get a painting on both surfaces is a real bonus and gives us something extra special to share with visitors,” he added.
Now that the discovery was made, teachers will further analyze and study the sarcophagus in order to find out more about the mummy inside it, which is believed to date back between 760 and 525 BC. The illustration showing Amentet not the interior of the sarcophagus is the better-preserved of the two, and it remained hidden by the mummy of Ta-Kr-Hb. The painting depicts the goddess in profile, looking to the right and wearing what experts describe her typical red dress.
The arms of the goddess were pained slightly outstretched as she is standing on top of a platform, something that indicates the depiction of the goddess is of a holy statue or processional figurine. This platform is usually supported by a column, and one such column can be distinguished on the underside of the sarcophagus.
The mummy was analyzed back in 2013 at Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, where experts performed CT and X-ray scans on both the mummy and the sarcophagus. The researchers discovered that the skeleton had suffered extensive chest and pelvis damage after the body had been mummified. The skull remained intact, and radiography revealed that the brain of Ta-Kr-Hb was removed during mummification through the sinuses.
However, only after the recent removal of the mummified remains were experts able to observe the intricate decorations on the sarcophagus beneath.