Goddess found painted inside and outside mummy’s coffin

Conservators at Scotland’s Perth Museum and Gallery have discovered two painted images of a goddess in the coffin of an Egyptian mummy. The figure of goddess Amentet is painted on the interior and exterior of the coffin base (which I have just learned is called a “trough”).

The mummy is of a woman named Ta-Kr-Hb, likely a priestess or princess,  who lived around 760-525 B.C. in Thebes. Damaged by grave robbers breaking into the coffin looking for valuables and from centuries of flash floods, Ta-Kr-Hb and her coffin are in poor condition. The museum embarked on a public conservation project to save the mummy (on hold now).

In March, for the first time in more than a century the mummy of Ta-Kr-Hb was removed from the coffin. Amentet’s presence underneath her came as a surprise. It was also the first time they raised the coffin to get a look at the underside so Amentet’s presence there was another surprise. The one inside the trough is the best preserved of the two.

It shows Imentet in profile, looking right and wearing her typical red dress. Her arms are slightly outstretched and she is standing on a platform, indicating the depiction is of a holy statue or processional figure. Usually, the platform is supported by a pole or column and one of these can be seen on the underside of the coffin trough.

The platform and supporting pole are very clear, as is the torso in its red dress, with ribbons draping her arms, but unfortunately, the feet, legs, and head are missing in the painting.

The mummy and wooden coffin of Ta-Kr-Hb was donated to Perth Museum in 1936 by the Alloa Society of Natural Science and Archaeology. It was donated to the Society by William Bailey who had previously acquired from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Little is known about its discovery. Conservators hope to fill in some of the many blanks in Ta-Kr-Hb ‘s history by studied her remains and the coffin.

The museum has raised funds for a comprehensive conservation project to stabilize the mummy and delicate wood coffee in time for them to be exhibited again when the new museum opens in Perth City Hall in 2022. The body has been rewrapped and is now stable. They still need to raise another £7,395  for which they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign. Donate here.

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