The Mummy of Lady Takabuti
Last night I attended a lecture by Professor Rosalie David, O.B.E., F.R.S.A., Director of the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology in Manchester and came away feeling inspired!
As part of the Friends of the Egypt Centre in Swansea lecture season, Professor David came to talk to us about The Mummy of Lady Takabuti: her life revealed through recent researches. Having heard her speak once before, I knew I was in for an entertaining and insightful hour...and I was right! The lecture began with an overview of the history, work and context of the Manchester KNH Centre, touching also on previous mummy investigations and early mummy studies. We then moved on to hear the fascinating story of the Theban mummy which has also featured as a television documentary.
Lady Takabuti was bought to Belfast, Northern Ireland by Thomas Greg in 1834. He subsequently presented her to the Belfast Natural History Society. The hieroglyphs on the coffin were deciphered by the Reverend Dr Edward Hincks, a member of the Society. Takabuti was then unwrapped at the Ulster Museum on the 27 January 1835 before a male only audience of the Society. The mummy was then displayed to the public for four days.
Research was undertaken at the time of the unwrapping - the bandages, insects, dentition, anatomy, method of mummification, craftsmanship and coffin were all studied before replacing the bandages and putting it on display in the Belfast Museum.
Later studies have included xrays taken in 1987 which confirmed her age as around 25.
The more recent research at Manchester has featured radiology, dental analysis, histology, hair sampling and reconstruction of the face.
Overall, the story told by Professor David was fascinating. It also confirmed our continuing wonderment with mummies and how, in death, the Ancient Egyptian mummies are still teaching us about their life.
Professor Rosalie David (Centre) with Dr Kasia Szpakowska (right) and myself.