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,
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