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Museum Finds Mummy of Mer-Neith-it-es in Empty Sarcophagus

Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney have found the mummy of Mer-Neith-it-es in an empty sarcophagus

The Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney have found a 2500-year-old mummy in a sarcophagus 160 years after lying empty.

The sarcophagus of the ancient Egyptian priestess Mer-Neith-it-es was purchased by one of the university’s founders, Sir Charles Nicholson, around 1860. Since then, it had been believed to have been an empty casket, but where there’s a sarcophagus there’s always a mummy.

The sarcophagus of Mer-Neith-it-es, REUTERS Independent

The sarcophagus of Mer-Neith-it-es – REUTERS/Independent

Around 600 BC, Mer-Neith-it-es was a high priestess of Egypt who served in the temple of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet. As a person of high social value, she was given a proper burial, with mummification and a sarcophagus, somewhat like royalty.

But when the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney received the wooden box cut out resemble the priestess herself, it came listed as “empty” and containing only “mixed debris”.

Two and half millenia later however, her body has been found.

Surprisingly, no one, during the 160 year that Mer-Neith-it-es has been resting at the Nicholson Museum, had thought of opening her sarcophagus.

Last June, researchers opened the coffin and were surprised to find human bones, bandages, 7000 beads.

However, tomb raiders had beat the researchers to the body, so only about 10 percent of it remained in the sarcophagus.

Although incomplete, the mummy could provide invaluable insights in the life of an ancient Egyptian priestess. The bone could also reveal personal details about Mer-Neith-it-es herself, such as her health status before death, diet and if she had any diseases.

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