Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute is the latest museum to be hit by mummymania, as it welcomes the mummy and coffin of an ancient Egyptian High Priest to an otherworldly exhibition. ‘The Journey Beyond – Ancient Egypt and Prehistoric Ayrshire’ will compare attitudes to life and death in two very different corners of the world: Egypt and southwest Scotland.
Local Neolithic, Iron Age and Bronze Age burial items from Ayrshire will show how Scotland’s early inhabitants held strong views about life after death. Yet the star of the show is bound to be the mummy and coffin of Iufenamun, a 21st – 22nd Dynasty (1077-716 BC) High Priest of the Temple of Karnak, near modern Luxor. His highly-decorated coffin and mummified remains were given to engineer Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff by Egypt in the 20th century, for his work on the Nile.
Recent state-of-the-art scanning techniques mean a facial reconstruction of Iufenamun, meaning ‘he belongs to Amun’, will go on show at the National Museum of Scotland when it reopens next year. For now though, visitors to the Dick Institute can see how Iufenamun’s ornate coffin unearths the religious beliefs of ancient Egypt.
“It’s amazing to see these exhibits and artefacts at such close quarters,” says local council leader Douglas Reid. “The mummy itself appears to be in incredible condition.” Mummymania appears to have gripped Kilmarnock, as rebel knitters – aka ‘yarn bombers’ – have been leaving knitted models of the Pyramids of Giza on the steps of the Institute. Watch a video on Egyptomania in London here.
A replica Iron Age ‘cist’ burial and a series of photographs entitled ‘Ultima Thule’ (the northern frontier) by Stephen Vaughan are among the exhibition’s other highlights. The photographs, which look at connections between geology, archaeology and history, are founded on the work of ancient Greek explorer Pytheas, who was allegedly the first man to map Britain around the 4th century BC.
‘The Journey Beyond – Ancient Egypt and Prehistoric Ayrshire’ runs until 28th August 2010.