From Egyptian desert to Scottish highlands--the radiographic study of a twenty-fifth dynasty coffin and mummy bundle from the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland

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Authors: Lidija M. McKnight and Robert D. Loynes
Date: Annual 2014
From: Papers on Anthropology(Issue 23)
Publisher: University of Tartu, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Anatomy
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,206 words

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Since 1936, the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland, has curated a wrapped ancient Egyptian human mummy within a wooden anthropoid coffin. In June 2013, funding was procured to transport the mummy and coffin to the University of Manchester for radiographic study, whereby information regarding the life and death of the individual was sought.

The mummy and coffin were imaged using digital radiography (DR) and computed tomography (CT) at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. The process revealed that the bundle contained the mummified remains of a single human individual, which had suffered extensive skeletal disruption. This paper focuses on the radiographic analysis of the artefact.

Keywords: mummy, coffin, imaging, DR, CT


Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland, curates an ancient Egyptian wooden, bivalve anthropoid coffin to which is applied a cartonnage layer (a linen layer over which gesso is applied) (3) decorated with funerary motifs and inscriptions. The name of a female individual, ta-kr-Hb, was legible on the coffin lid, although no titles were visible due to a layer of organic detritus covering the inscription (pers. comm.--C. Price). Iconography dated the coffin to the 25th Dynasty (c. 747-656BC) and was thought to originate from the Akhmim region, Upper Egypt (pers. comm.--A. Dodson, A. Williams, J. Taylor and C. Sheikholeslami).

Lying within and affixed to the coffin base was a wrapped mummy bundle (Fig. 1). Museum records stated that both were donated to the museum in 1936 when the Alloa Society of Natural Science and Archaeology disbanded. The Society received it on 5th May 1896 from a Mr William Bailey, who procured it from the Curator of the Government Museum in Cairo. Archival documents state that it was discovered a few years prior to this acquisition date in Thebes and contained the remains of a priestess or princess of the Late New Kingdom. Other than this, no research was conducted on either the coffin or the mummy, which instigated fresh interest.


The mummy and coffin were located in 2012 during data acquisition for the Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank project at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester (2). At this time, research was delayed pending the procurement of funding to enable specialist transportation of the artefact. In June 2013, following a successful funding bid, the mummy and coffin were transported to Manchester in bespoke conservation crates for imaging analysis.

The imaging investigation took place at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and comprised a macroscopic overview including epigraphic and iconographic assessment. Digital radiographs (DR) were obtained on a Philips Eleve Digital Diagnostic machine producing overlapping images in two projections (antero-posterior and lateral), which were later joined using computer algorithms. Computed tomography (CT) (Somatom Definition AS+ (Siemens Medical Systems, Germany) was conducted giving a slice thickness of 0.625mm and producing over 6800 transverse axial images. The coffin base and mummy bundle were imaged together as the bundle appeared to be firmly fixed. The coffin lid was studied separately using both imaging modalities.


Macroscopic Overview...

Source Citation

Source Citation
McKnight, Lidija M., and Robert D. Loynes. "From Egyptian desert to Scottish highlands--the radiographic study of a twenty-fifth dynasty coffin and mummy bundle from the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland." Papers on Anthropology, no. 23, 2014, p. 108+. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A377662690