Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our Treasures Abroad, University College Cork, Ireland: Mummy in no rush to return to Egypt

University College Cork in the Republic of Ireland has in its possession a 2,300 year old Egyptian mummy, which Egypt has been trying to repatriate in recent years. Talks have taken place between University College Cork (UCC) and officials of the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin over the fate of the mummy and sarcophagus.

Egyptian officials are determined that the mummy is their property and want it returned to Egypt to go on display at the new Grand Egyptian Museum when it opens in 2015.

However UCC administrators hope the mummy, believed to be that of a high-ranking court official, will be allowed to remain in Ireland as they argue that the political situation is unstable and many priceless artefacts have been stolen from museums in Egypt.

UCC is thought to have obtained the mummy in the 1890s, although it was not made public until 1903. The mummy has not been on display for over fifty years. Mystery surrounds how the mummy came to UCC.  By 1910, it was illegal to export mummified remains from Egypt, which may explain why there is no record of its delivery to the college.

The mummy is part of a number of artefacts retained by the college from collections amassed when it was Queen’s College Cork from 1845 to 1908. A spokeswoman said the mummy is 1 metre and 69 cm long and weighs 24.2 kilogrammes. X-rays have revealed that the mummy was a well-built, fully grown male.

The new Egyptian museum under construction at the Giza plateau
The coffin dates to around 625 to 600 BC and bears an inscription of a man called Hor whose title was lotus-beater. However, the mummy itself can be dated back to the Ptolemaic Roman period 305 BC to 500 AD. Latif Ellayeh, Egypt’s First Secretary to Ireland, visited UCC last year to discuss the ownership of the mummy.

Egypt has been locked in battles with museums, universities, and private owners around the world over artefacts that were taken by Western archaeologists before Egyptian authorities put a stop to the ‘rape of Egypt’. 

Ancinet Egyptian artefacts have been a mainstay for historical tourist attractions, like the British Museum in London, but Egypt feels that it is missing out on this tourism, and the ownership of their own history.

Perhaps now Egypt is safe and secure under the strong and assured leadership of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi the mummy and its coffin can finally come home and take its place on display in the new Grand Egyptian Museum.
Source: TNN

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