This week sees the opening of the Ipswich Museum‘s new Egyptian Gallery. Visitors will be able tomarvel at the mummy of Lady Tahathor, or find out about daily life in ancient Egypt as they journey down the Nile. But wait… there has been a terrible crime! A thief has broken into the museum, and stolen a very rare and precious Egyptian artefact! Can you- or your kids -help solve the mystery?
This Saturday, on the 7th of August, the Ipswich Museum celebrates the grand reopening of its Egyptian Gallery. At the centre of the new set-up is the mummy of Lady Tahathor, complete with her sarcophagus. Excitingly, the results from the Lady’s recent visit to the hostpital – she needed a CTscan-are shown on video.
Thescan on the 2,500 year old revealedthat Tahathorlikely died of natural causes, aged in her mid-twenties. Between her thighs, an odd bundle was discovered, thought to be the remains of her organs, removed during mummification. As was customary in ancient Egypt, the woman’s heart had been placed back in her body,so it could be weighed againstthe ‘feather of truth’, a vital step on her journey through the afterlife.
“There does appear to be a bundle of some description between (Ta-Hathor’s) thighs which may be a parcel containing her other organs such as the lungs and intestines,” explains Caronline McDonald, curator of archaeology at Colchester and Ipswich Museums. “In early Egyptian history these were placed in separate containers known as canopic jars but later they were simply wrapped and placed back in the body.”
The exhibition further explains the 70-day process of mummification using a jackal-shaped canopic jar, the golden mask of Syros and the golden mask of Titos Flavios Demetrios a Roman citizen who died in Egypt in the 1st century AD.
A true-to-life portrait of a 2,000 year old young man from Hawara, excavated by renowned 19th century archaeologist Flinders Petrie, is on loan from the Manchester Museum. Other artefacts in the ‘Journey Down the Nile’ exhibition include a rare 4000 year old chair, a beautiful 3000 year old hunting bow, exquisite jewellery, alabaster cosmetic jars and bronze figures of the gods such as Osirisand Bastet, the cat goddess.
The new gallery is interactive, full of stunning objects and shows just how relevant and exciting museums can be for families, school pupils and general visitors, says Councillor Andrew Cann from Ipswich Borough Council. Ancient Egypt is a fascinating subject for many people and this gallery showcases not only beautiful objects and rich stories but also gives a flavour of what is to come in the future redevelopment of Ipswich Museum.
The revamped exhibition includes a tactile wall showing what materials the ancient Egyptians used, as well as a working model of a Shaduf (a water lifting machine, still in use in modern day Egypt). Yet, it’s not just ‘hands on’ at the Ipswich Museum. Have you ever smelled the scent of a lotus flower?
Embalming &CSIMy Mummy
To celebrate the opening, from Tuesday the 10th to Friday the 13th of August, the museum is organising ‘CSI My Mummy’, a quest to retrieve a very rare and precious Egyptian artefact, stolen from the museum. The eventoffers children the opportunity to become part of the crime scene investigation squad looking into the artefact’s theft. They’ll learn how to examine a crime scene, cast teeth marks and dust and lift finger marks using state of the art equipment. But that’s not all. In order to solve the crime, they’ll need to know about ancient Egyptian customs, beliefs and technology as well. Full CSI suits, gloves and masks which the rookie detectives get to keep – will be provided.
On Saturday the 7th of August, join the ‘Excellent Egyptians’ event to take part in ’embalming class’, suitable for children ages 7 years and up.Join the high priest and his apprentice as they prepare the body of the previous pharaoh for the afterlife. Theyll show you how the Egyptians removed the mummy’s organs, which gods they prayed to, what went with the pharaoh on his journey to the afterlife and how they painted the pharaohs tomb.
The Ipswich Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm. Entrance to the museum is free. ‘CSI My Mummy‘ takes place every day from August 10th to 13th. Sessions are 10.30am -1pm (8 -11 years) or 2pm-4.30pm (12-16yrs). ‘CSI My Mummy’ costs 12 per child, and booking (Tel 01473 433691) is essential.