Curator’s Diary 30/6/12: CT scanning Asru … and a crocodile mummy!

Inner coffin of Asru

Inner coffin of Asru

Over the past few weeks we have been filming short clips to appear in the new Ancient Worlds galleries, and in digital content to connect with them. This week we filmed Dr. Roberta Mazza of the University of Manchester talking about Egypt in Late Antiquity, in the beautiful surroundings of the John Rylands library. I am conscious, though, that I promised a follow-up post to news of another filming session, CT-scanning the mummies.

As part of a larger project, led by Profs Rosalie David and Judith Adams, to CT-scan all our mummies with the latest technology at the Manchester Children’s Hospital, one day last month we took one of the museum’s best loved mummies for a state-of-the-art examination.

Asru, already unwrapped, and her two finely decorated coffins were the first significant additions to the Manchester Egyptology collection. They were donated in 1825 by E. and W. Garrett to what was then the Manchester Natural History Society collection. Hieroglyphic texts on the coffins make clear that Asru had been a singer in the temple of Amun at Karnak, so it is probable that her burial was originally located on Luxor’s west bank. Stylistically, her coffins date to the 25th Dynasty (c. 750-664 BC)

Preparing Asru to be scanned

Preparing Asru to be scanned

Asru has enjoyed a surprising afterlife. She was an early subject of the Manchester Mummy Project, and proved a perfect patient. Using a pioneering range of non-destructive scientific techniques, the Project showed that in life Asru had suffered from a number of diseases. Among her complaints would have been anaemia, coughing, stomach ache and diarrhoea, caused by a parasitic bladder infection – called schistosomiasisis (or bilharzia) and other worm infestations, probably Strongyloides. Despite these ailments – and, judging from her fine coffins and mummification techniques, because of her wealth – she had lived to be around 50 at death – elderly for an ancient Egyptian! When the Greater Manchester Police took Asru’s finger- and toeprints (another first, for a 2700 year old body), they showed none of the wear and tear that most ordinary Egyptians would have expected.  Her duties as a chantress cannot have been arduous.

Following in a proud Manchester tradition: Jenny, Lidija, Campbell, Steph, Sam, Steve, and John, with mummified crocodile.

By conducting CT-scans using the latest technology, we hope to find out even more about Asru – things which, in the 1970s and 80s when she was first examined, were not possible to establish.

X-ray of the crocodile’s head

While scanning Asru, we also took the opportunity to subject one of our crocodile mummies to further examination. Lidija McKnight and Stephanie Atherton, colleagues from Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, were interested to know more about what appeared to be a (fatal?) blow to the head. Results of the CT scans have not yet become available, but promise to give us much more information on the lives of people – and animals – in ancient Egypt. Results will be featured in digital content in the new Ancient Worlds gallery, and further collaborative research is expected to take place soon.

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8 Comments

Filed under Curator's Diary, Egyptian mummies, Research projects

8 responses to “Curator’s Diary 30/6/12: CT scanning Asru … and a crocodile mummy!

  1. AUNTIE KATIE

    WAS ASRU FROM AFRICA OR IS THAT JUST AGE SPOTS OR TO MUCH ‘TANNING’

  2. Asru was from Africa that is a simple fact. I love how humor changes the nature simplest truth.

  3. Campbell@Manchester

    Reblogged this on AncientWorldsManchester and commented:

    Filming for the Ancient Worlds galleries

  4. Kristy Lively

    Greetings. Hetepu (Peace & Blessings).

    I write to you as a patron and daughter of Antiquity and in the Most High Light of Ra. I recently was inspired to look into your Ancient Egyptian Collection online, I was specifically looking for information about Chantress “ASRU” – A SACRED WOMAN TO THE TEMPLE & ANTIQUITY. A Chantress was a very High -Esteemed & Venerated divine duty.

    To have her exposed to the human touch, with ONLY a small cloth covering her Private Area, and her Head displayed on a wall, instead with her BODY. This is beyond DISRESPECT. One would assume the length of Research and accolades inspired by “ASRU,” or advances in your research and understanding of Ancient Egypt- would render some Discretion and RESPECT for the Ancient Ones today, in their Afterlife.

    I ask and request that: Please cover ASRU adequately and gracefully. Please do not allow the Touching of her. And Please – “ASRU” Head RESPECTFULLY & SACREDLY placed back with her BODY. Like you would Expect your “Great Grandmother” or “Mother” would be treated and left to be in PEACE, in GLORY, and with DIVINE DIGNITY in death. I look forward to an active discussion and momentum to at least cover ASRU adequately from the cold and restore her dignity. ASRU is our Mother. In light & Peace.

    Serqet

    • Campbell@Manchester

      Thank you for your comment, Serqet. Asru has been re-displayed in what we hope is a respectful way, with an ancient linen covering from collar to ankle. The facial reconstruction by Richard Neave is displayed alongside her. Recent CT-scans are telling us even more about her life and mummification process, more news of which will appear soon. Interestingly, a new translation of the hieroglyphs on her coffins shows that she is not recorded as holding the title “chantress”, as we first thought.

      • Kristy Lively

        Greetings Again. Hetepu Dr. Campbell Price:

        Thank you for your expedient response and TRUE heartfelt efforts to honor our outcry and restore Peace & Dignity to our Queen Mother “ASRU,” a SACRED WOMAN OF THE TEMPLE & ANTIQUITY.

        Moving forward, I still urge and request that Queen Mother “ASRU’s” head is placed in the correct anatomical position [her head resting on her neck-completely connected to her beloved body.] I also ask that you include myself, as well as, my Khametic Elders in your research and discovery of the new translation of MDW NTR (Heiroglyphs) found on Queen Mother “ASRU’s” coffin. As a true patron and daughter of Antiquity and Golden Light of Ra – it is imperative to stress the importance of assisting you- Dr. Campbell Price and the Manchester Museum, in determining Queen Mother’s “ASRU” Divine Title & Role in Ancient Khamet and within the Temple of Amun-Ra. We send you our highest and esteemed vibrations. Dua “Thank you” again for assisting us in protecting our Divine Mother from the cold.

        In Light & Peace.

        Serqet

  5. Pingback: Egyptian priest digitally unwrapped | Warren Fyfe News.org

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