The Two Mummies

Shortly after the break-in overnight on Saturday 29th January, pictures emerged of two damaged mummies, variously described as “damaged”, “destroyed”, and “beheaded”.  One can be seen in this picture in The Telegraph [UK national newspaper].  A smaller image on Ahram online (image 5 in the gallery) has not be cropped and shows the second skull in the background.

The identity of these mummies was a mystery for several days.  Fears that they might by Yuya and Tuya surfaced, but were rejected because the faces in photos did not resemble the grandparents on Tutankhamun. Dr Hawass has admitted that initially he feared they might be royal mummies from the family of Akhenaten undergoing DNA testing; however on 5th February, they were confirmed as Late Period mummies in statements from Dr Zahi Hawass, and Dr Salima Ikram.


The two mummies that were reported as damaged at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo were in fact unidentified skulls dating to the Late Period; these two skulls are NOT royal mummies. These skulls were being temporarily housed in the storage room next to the CT scanner lab, which is in the grounds of the museum. The skulls were there to be used to test the CT scanner, and when they were retrieved from the looters, they were in the same condition that they had been in when they were originally placed in the storage room.


The mummies that are shown damaged were Late Period fragmentary mummies that were used to test the CT machine and were stored near the machine. When the people who attacked the museum went in, in the area of the gift shop, etc they also breached the room in which the test mummy fragments were kept, and those are the ones that are shown in the images. They were already in fragments.

(It is unclear whether these are genuinely independent reports or whether Dr Ikram was quoting from Dr Hawass’ blog.)


A photo from of one mummy from 1993 appears, however, to show a young woman whose faces may match one of the heads but whose mummy was intact at that time.  There is a full length photograph of the mummy which somebody has uploaded here (not embedded to the Looting Database because the copyright status of the image is unknown.) The label on her arm which clearly begins “Amen—” also matches a label seen attached to bones on the floor of the museum in the original images.  The match between the two photos is not universally accepted, however.  As reported by Discovery News, the mummy (the photo has the file name “Amenhotepwhois”)  was identified by by Mercedes Gonzalez, director of the Instituto de Estudios Científicos en Momias in Madrid, Spain and was first published by the Chilean journal Conozca Mas.  According to the journal, the mummy was formerly on display in the Cairo Egyptian Musuem but withdrawn from public display some years ago.

The difficulty is that the photograph shows a mummy which was whole, but museum authorities insist the head was detached and separate even before the January attack.  This calls into question the attribution, unless the mummy had befallen some other unreported mishap, or unless the musuem’s recollection of the state of the mummy is incomplete, perhaps because the staff responsible for the museum are still of work.

Last modified: February 5th, 2011

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