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Mummy moved from library

One of the College’s most unusual artifacts undergoes study and restoration.

In 1896, Holy Cross alumnus Rev. Peter Skelly made an unusual donation to the College: a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. Stored in Dinand Library for the past 104 years—most recently in the special collections room—the mummy and its coffin had begun to deteriorate. Two years ago, James E. Hogan, director of library services, took action and approached Rika Smith McNally, a conservator of objects and sculpture. McNally contacted the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, which offers a program, in conjunction with the University of Delaware, leading to a master of science degree in art conservation. Winterthur agreed to study and restore the mummy without charge if the College would allow the museum to keep the artifact for two years.

The mummy, which is 29 inches long, is believed to be the remains of a young girl named “Tanet-pahekau,” which translates as “daughter of the magic god.” The body is wrapped in brown linen that, in turn, is covered in a shroud of colorful, webbed beads. Since its arrival at Holy Cross, the mummy has remained inside a coffin inscribed with hieroglyphs.

In September, students at Winterthur will begin the process of analyzing and preserving the mummy, its wrappings and coffin. College administrators have yet to determine how and where the mummy will be displayed upon its return to Holy Cross.

 

Mummy

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