Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Irterau, the Egyptian Mummy at the Pitts Rivers


Image - J Horne

The Pitts Rivers Museum in Oxford is so full of the most amazing objects that a visitor is spoilt for choice as to which to linger over.  The shrunken heads are a particularly curiosity to which people make a bee-line for the cabinets to marvel at the minute faces.  Another curiosity that visitors make sure they see is the Egyptian coffins and mummy of Irterau (pictured above).

Irterau was around 25 years of age when she died and is one of the original exhibits of the Museum from when it opened in 1884.  She was brought to England by the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII) as a memento of his trip to Egypt.  In 1869, the Prince visited Egypt as part of a wider tour which included Scandinavia and Europe and on reaching Thebes, the eminent royal visitor was encouraged to 'discover' a tomb.  The contents were duly given to the Prince, the mummy being part of the haul.  On his return to Egypt, Prince Edward gifted the artefacts to friends and museums and the mummy was offered to the Ashmolean Musuem in Oxford.  The Ashmolean, having many mummies of its own, delicately declined the offer and so Irterau came to stay at the Pitts River instead.


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